Campbell Island Cows
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About Campbell Island CattleAbout Campbell Island Cattle



rnrnCampbell Island Cattle, as you would expect, are fromrnCampbell Island. Campell Island is a subantarctic island that lies over 600rnkilometers south of mainland New Zealand. They were first introduced tornCampbell Island for the sustenance of any shipwreck survivors who happened torncome ashore there.

rnrnAlthough there is a report of “an attempt at agriculturernwhich failed in 1856” the veracity of this is in doubt. However, there arernreliable records of pigs, guinea fowl, and geese being liberated in 1865, andrngoats and pigs were released there in 1868. Sheep were introduced by a Frenchrnscientific expedition which stayed there for almost four months at the end ofrn1874, and although the fate of the other early introductions is unknown, thernsheep were seen in subsequent years.

rnrnThe first true farming venture started in 1896 with thernimportation of between 300 and 400 sheep. In 1901 another 1000 sheep – ofrnLeicester/Merino and Lincoln/Merino crosses – were brought in, and the followingrnyear another 1000 sheep plus eight cattle and two horses were landed.

rnrnIn 1903 it was reported that there were then 4000 sheep, twornhorses, and 20-30 cattle on the island. By 1910 the sheep had increased tornnearly 7000, and there were six bulls and ten cows which were allowed to run inrna wild state.

rnrnDifficulties of transport and of getting people to operaternthe farm in such an inhospitable, lonely island resulted in a cessation ofrnfarming in 1931, and although sheep numbers had fallen by this time, both thesernand the cattle were abandoned.

rnrnDuring the second World War, a coast watcher noted thatrnthere were “about 20 head of cattle” on Campbell Island in 1941, but veryrnlittle attention was paid to these animals either then or subsequently. In 1954rnthe island was declared a “reserve for the protection of flora and fauna” andrnthere was increasing pressure to get rid of both the sheep and cattle,rnparticularly because of the effect that they were having on the nativernvegetation.

rnrnStudies were made of the sheep and some were taken to thernmainland in 1976 (see The Feral Sheep of Campbell Island). The remaining sheeprnand the cattle appear to have been shot out by the late 1980s or early 1990s,rnand some accounts give the date of 1984 for the extermination of the cattle.

rnrnLittle is known about the cattle but from photographs takenrnof them in 1976 it would appear that they probably originated from a largelyrnShorthorn-type breed.

rnrnSource: New Zealand Rare Breeds (www.RareBreeds.co.nz/ )rnrn

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