Alderney Cows

About Alderney CattleAbout Alderney Cattle

Alderney cattle were a breed of dairy cattle from the British Channel Island of Alderney; however, they are no longer found on the island. Pure Alberney cattle are now extinct, though hybrids still exist. Alderney cattle were one of three Channel Island cattle breeds, the others being the Jersey and the Guernsey.

Pure-breed Alderney cattle were smaller, more slender boned animals than the cattle of the other Channel Islands and in some ways they were more deer-like than bovine. They were docile and would even follow children passively back to their pastures. Their milk was copious and produced very rich butter. A 1912 writer said, "The Alderney ranks as the best butter cow in the world, whilst its abundant yield of milk, rich in cream, is phenomenal."

They are included in a A. A. Milne's poem "The King's Breakfast" and is mentioned in Chapter 4 of Jane Austen's novel Emma. They are also mentioned in Elizabeth Gaskell's novel of middle Victorian era, Cranford. Betsy Barker, a town resident who owns the Alderney, regaled her visiting neighbors about the milk quality and "wonderful intelligence of this animal".

Most of the pure-breed Alderney cattle were removed from the island to Guernsey in the summer of 1940, because the island was then occupied by the Germans (during World War 2) and it was difficult for the few remaining islanders to milk them. On Guernsey, the cattle were interbred with local breeds. The few pure-breed cattle remaining on Alderney were killed and eaten by the Germans in 1944.