Sunday, February 12, 2012

Brown Highland cattle produce rare white calf

The Telegraph
April 15, 2009

Two brown Highland cattle have produced this incredibly rare white calf, the result of an "unusual" genetic throwback.

The five-day-old calf, named Heather, was born to cow Isabelle and bull Robert, which both have the species' distinctive long and shaggy brown hair.

Breeders say Heather is not albino, but has a recessive gene which means she has been covered in completely white and pale hair.

The distinctive Highland cattle are one of Britain's oldest breeds and are instantly recognisable for their rusty, red and brown hair and long horns.

Heather's owner Andrew Nunn, 42 from Bere Ferrers, Devon, said he was surprised when he saw her colouring.

He said: "I looked out of the window after breakfast and just saw this pure white calf – I was stunned. I could see her from right across the field.

"At first I thought I was seeing things, but there she was. I was elated. She is just gorgeous. She is so friendly, a lot of cattle are wary of people, but Heather will come up to you like a dog.

"I'm told she is not an albino, she is just one of these rare very white calves."

Andrew, a company director of a farm wholesaler, owns a small herd of the Highland cattle which are more commonly associated with the fields of Western Scotland.

President of the Highland Cattle Society, Andrew Kirkpatrick, said two dark-haired parents producing a white calf is "extremely unlikely".

He said: "You don't see many white Highlanders because the white gene is recessive. For two reds to have a white calf is extremely unlikely and incredibly rare.

"Somewhere along the bloodline there must be a link with the white gene.

"It probably goes back a long way, and with each passing generation you are adding up the odds of it happening. It's really quite unusual when it does."


A3418 - Genetics of Cattle Pr...

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