Gloucester Cattle are a dual purpose breed (meat and milk) which originated in the west of England county of Gloucestershire. According to the Gloucester Cattle Society, "Gloucester cattle are an ancient breed, numerous in the Severn Vale and throughout Gloucestershire as early as the 13th century. They were valued for their meat and milk (producing cheese) and as strong draught oxen. Gloucesters achieved peak popularity about 1750, with Gloucester cattle from Devon to Essex and to the Welsh coast, but were then depleted by continuing sales of established herds in the early 20th century resulting in only one old substantial herd remaining by 1972."
Gloucester Cattle are categorised as an "at risk" breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust as there are fewer than 750 registered breeding females.
Appearance / health:
Gloucester Cattle are large. Cows, calves and steers are a dark brown color, while bulls are black. They have a white belly and a white stripe along the spine and continuing over the tail. They normally have well-developed white horns with black tips.
Like other livestock, cattle require regular vaccinations and inoculations (for example, rabies inoculations) for disease prevention and health management. Similar to other mammals, cows can suffer a variety of ailments and health issues. A veterinarian should be on call and provide regular checkups and monitoring for the entire herd.
Behavior / temperament:
Cattle are docile animals that have strong maternal instincts. They are big and bulky, and could, therefore, inflict harm without intending to. Handling and brushing them constantly while juvenile will help train them to be calm and trusting around humans, which is helpful especially when they need to be attended to by the veterinarian or groomer.
Housing / diet:
Housing for cattle is essentially to give them shelter from extreme weather conditions. Barns, rub-in sheds, stalls, and other structures like windbreaks, should be available where the cows graze. Aside from manmade shelters, trees and tall bushes can provide resting places for cattle to minimize heat stroke or wind chill.
Shelters will give the cows the option to seek safe haven from strong winds, extreme heat or cold, and heavy rains. Shelters should be strong, stable, spacious, well ventilated, and waterproof. Barns should be provided with water supply, and stalls should be lined with hay. They should also be cleaned regularly.
Sprinklers and other cooling systems are recommended for areas that overheat during summer months. Professional and humane fencing should be provided. All poisonous plants should be removed from the pasture; and hay should always be kept dry (wet hay grows molds, becoming a health hazard for cows).
A good quality pasture for grazing is the basic dietary requirement of cattle. The recommended pasture size per cow is 10 acres, without which, the diet should be supplemented with hay. The recommended quantity of hay is an average of 2% of the animal’s body weight per day (or 2 lbs. of hay per 100 lbs. of body weight). Supplements include grain mixes, protein and mineral cubes, and salt blocks, depending on the type of cow, its uses, and the local climate.
Providing a constant supply of fresh water is essential. An adult cow consumes an estimate of up to 20 gallons of water per day.