The Rare Breeds Centre is the only such centre in Kent and is approved by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST)

Of the cattle we have on the farm, only the Gloucester is now on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust ‘watch list.’ Other cattle at risk can be found at:

What do you call cattle?

Cattle are a species of bovine animal which also includes buffalo and bison. Males are known as bulls, and adult females that have had a calf are known as cows. Females under three years old are called heifers.

What do they eat?

Cattle are herbivores. The majority of British dairy cows eat grass during the summer and silage (preserved grass or maize) in the winter. This is usually supplemented with dry feeds such as cereals and protein feeds with added vitamins and minerals. Each dairy cow eats between 25 and 50 kg of feed per day and needs a constant and regular supply of fresh water to drink.

Cattle are ruminants. They have a digestive system that allows them to digest food in a stomach which has four compartments. They chew the 'cud' which is a process of chewing, swallowing, regurgitating and rechewing.

Where do they come from?

It is thought that modern cattle were domesticated from a single wide-ranging Pleistocene species, the wild aurochs between 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago.

By choosing to keep rare breeds we can help conserve vulnerable and rare British species.


Gloucester: First recorded circa 1200 this popular and beautiful breed is prized for its milk and beef qualities. They fell out of favour around 1750 because of a susceptibility to disease, the introduction of other breeds and a lack of suitable grazing. The Gloucester Cattle Society was established in 1919, but by 1972 there was only one established herd remaining. Since becoming a recognised rare breed, numbers have increased.

English Longhorns: An ancient breed with large sweeping horns that came close to extinction in the middle of the 20th century. They are excellent mothers, give birth very easily and are docile and easy to manage. This breed has played an important role in the modern beef industry. We have two English Longhorns on the farm, mother and daughter, called Kirsty and Maisy.

Beef Shorthorn: Originating from Teeswater and Durham, the breed has evolved over the last two centuries. Selective breeding in the 18th century and the introduction of a legendary bull called Comet in 1804 led to the breed as we know it today. Beef Shorthorn genetics have been used in the worldwide development of beef and dairy cattle which has ensured the breeds bright future. We have two Beef Shorthorns called Cherry and Pip, again a mother and daughter.

Jersey: Luna our Jersey lives with a lot of other animals in the Children’s Barn. A very pretty and amenable breed originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands and noted for the high butterfat in its milk. She should have her first calf at around 2½ -3 years old.

Gloucester Bull (photo with the kind permission of the Gloucester Cattle Society)

In 1796 a Gloucester cow called Blossom provided the first anti-smallpox serum to Sir Edward Jenner. He had noticed that milk maids were free from the disease.

The Gloucester cattle at the Rare Breeds Centre all have names: Nanette a granny, Solo, her daughter and Hazel, her granddaughter.

English Longhorn

Domestic cattle can live to between 15 and 20 years, but Big Bertha, was a cow who lived in Ireland and died just before her 49th birthday in 1993.

Beef Shorthorn

During summer days, our cattle are all housed in the Cattle Barn and are turned out in the evenings to graze, but like most cattle are kept housed all the winter months to protect their grazing.

They are fed on silage and concentrated feeds as appropriate to their needs.

Luna, our Jersey calf is growing quickly and will soon be a cow. She is very beautiful and docile and lives in the Children’s Barn.

Photo by Greg Allen

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Set on a beautiful 100 acre farm in Woodchurch near Ashford, Kent, the Rare Breeds Centre was founded by COT in 1992. COT provides homes and life skills opportunities on the farm and in other locations to people with learning disabilities

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