Where boat trips are part of everyday life for cattle, at least if they still live on their island of origin for which they are famous. This is because Luing is a 14.3 square kilometre island in the Inner Hebrides off the north-west coast of Scotland. Some 200 inhabitants and more than twice as many animals of the Luing breed share this small living space.
The Luing breed was first created by the Cadzow brothers, Denis, Ralph and Shane, when they crossbred the Highland and the Beef Shorthorn. They were looking for animals to combine the hardiness of the Highland cattle with the fleshing qualities of the Shorthorn, with the aim of producing cows able to raise calves under the island’s adverse weather conditions. After strict line breeding and selection, in 1965 the Luing breed was officially recognised by the British Government.
Today Shane Cadzow continues to farm in the third generation on Luing and some surrounding isles. The islands’ natural separation by water is used to pair cows and heifers with the desired bull. As a result of this herd management, the animals are used to boarding ferries and wading through seawater.
Luing herds are now found in several parts of the world. For example, the frugal nature of these robust, reddish-brown animals makes them well-suited to conditions in Switzerland, where they have been reared since 2000. The handsome four-legged animals probably won’t be boarding any more ships in their new home, but who knows?