Rare ‘resident cows’ are settling into farm life

Ruby and Skye, pictured settling into their new home at Heeley City Farm, Sheffield. Picture: Marie Caley NSST Heeley Farm MC 5
Ruby and Skye, pictured settling into their new home at Heeley City Farm, Sheffield. Picture: Marie Caley NSST Heeley Farm MC 5
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One of the cows gives a suspicious sniff at nearby staff before stooping to eat from the bowl of food on the floor.

This is Ruby; and behind her - with almost exactly the same shade of deep brown hair - is roommate, Skye.

The Heeley City Farm Family Walk on 17 September is an easy 3 miles including a tour of the farm

The Heeley City Farm Family Walk on 17 September is an easy 3 miles including a tour of the farm

The pair are the newest arrivals at Heeley City Farm, in Sheffield, following the retirement of the farm’s previous ‘resident cows’ - Clover and Buttercup.

But Ruby and Skye are no ordinary cows. The Northern Dairy Short Horned Cows are actually part of an endangered species and are listed as critical on the Rare Bred’s Survival Watchlist. The lovely ladies are believed to the only two of their breed to exist in Sheffield, and two of only 150 female Northern Dairy Short Horned Cows left in the whole world.

And word of their arrival has already spread, with families from all across the region turning up for a peek at the pair.

“People are really excited to see them,” confirmed Sarah Wild, animal education and development officer.

“There’s been a real gap at the farm since our last two cows, Clover and Buttercup, left. We’d had them for six years and missed having them around; the big animals tend become a bit of a mascot for us on the farm, recognisable and distinct to all our visitiors who love to stand at the gate and feed them, so that presence was really missed.

“Ruby and Skye are both eight months old and we hope to breed them in about 18 months in order to help preserve this very rare breed, which is the third rarest breed of cattle in the UK

“This close to the Peak District, people are used to seeing Friesian Cows, so it’s great for us to be able to showcase a different breed.”

And rare breeds is something the farm knows all about.

“We’ve had rare breed golden guernsey goats and bagot goats, and rare breeds of pigs and sheep,” added Sarah.

“We’re a registered rare breed farm and work closely with the Rare Breed Survival Trust to get as many as we can.”

And Sarah is thrilled to report that both cows appear to be settling in well.

“They were a little wary of their new surroundings at first, having come from being outside on the moors,” she confirmed.

“Everyone has been really gentle with them, we want to take this steady and make sure they’re comfortable so we’ve been working on them with one or two members of staff, offering them food and spending time with them.”

Sarah reveals she has personally spent most of her life on the farm at Heeley, first as a volunteer when she was younger, and then later joining the staff six years ago.

“It’s an amazing place and great for visitors, there’s always so much going on,” said Sarah, who is one of 60 farm staff.

“Heeley City Farm has been open for nearly 35 years and it’s a thriving site with so many great community projects and events ongoing and a wealth of really passionate volunteers. When you wander around there’s always something different to see and there is such a great energy on the site.

“Our visitors can get really close to the animals and most days, unless the weather is really bad, they’ll be out in the fields. We’ve got bags of animal feed that people can buy and enjoy walking around and feeding the animals, whatever the weather.

“We’re open every day from 9am to 5pm and admission is completely free, so come and meet our friendly animals, play in the under 8’s playground, get lost in the wildlife garden, enjoy fresh home cooked meals in the cafe, or stock up on plants from our peat-free garden centre.”

Visit www.heeleyfarm.org.uk for details.