Ancient wild herd welcomes new arrival

The newborn calf.
The newborn calf.

Northumberland’s ancient herd of wild white cattle has a new addition.

The calf is the first one born to the Chillingham herd since mid-September.

The new arrival was a great introduction to the job for acting cattle warden Denene Crossley, who is looking after the herd while her sister, Ellie Waddington, is on maternity leave.

Denene was the first to see the newborn calf.

She said: “I first noticed the calf whilst I was bringing in a bale of hay for the cattle, and what a lovely surprise it was.

“The Beast from the East had been a real killjoy, as from January right through to May last year, no calves were conceived, so this new member was a positive start to the year in comparison to last March.

“Pregnancy lasts about nine months in cows, so we expect this calf was conceived around May 30 last year.

“We still do not know the gender of the calf, whether it be a baby bull or heifer, but what we do know is that the mother is looking after it very well, keeping it warm and encouraging movement and feeding.”

The Chillingham wild white cattle are unique in the world. They have lived in Chillingham Park for several centuries and could even date back to when Chillingham Castle was built around 800 years ago.

With more than 100 in the herd, the cattle live as wild animals and receive a bit of hay to keep them going throughout the winter.

Several calves were born during the summer, but since mid-September, no calves were born, until last week.

Chillingham Wild Cattle Park will open to the public on Sunday, April 7. The park will be open all day Monday to Friday, as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings, with tours presented by Denene.

Formed in 1939, the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association now has more than 350 member. A charitable organisation, it remains passionate about the preservation of the herd.