King Charles III has shown a “great interest” in Jersey farming, leading to the “phenomenal gesture” of giving seven heifers to a troubled island farm, a senior figure in the dairy sector has said.
Originally selected as a Platinum Jubilee gift for Queen Elizabeth II, the group of seven heifers has been "re-gifted" by King Charles III to help Woodlands Farm in St. Helier recover from the 'devastating' loss of more than 100 cows from its dairy herd through an outbreak of suspected botulism.
The death of Queen Elizabeth in September and events at Woodlands three months later prompted a change of plan for the heifers, who range from 16 to 18 months in age.
Andrew Le Gallais, a dairy farmer and former Chairman of the Jersey Milk Marketing Board, said arrangements had been helped by the King's representative on the island.
He said: “We have built a close relationship with the Lieutenant-Governor [Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd] and he understood exactly what was involved in this process and helped us in going through the protocols – there was a lot to be gone through.
“We have been very struck that this wasn't a matter of the King signing a form that was put in front of him, he was aware of what had happened here in December and has shown great interest – this is a personal gift from the Monarchy and a phenomenal gesture to Woodlands Farm and to the island herd.”
The heifers are “in calf” and due to give birth later this year, with their offspring set to be recorded in the Jersey Herd Book, the dairy industry's official register, with 'Platinum' added to their pedigree names to mark the links between the Sovereign and the Jersey breed in the Island. A group of younger heifers may be identified and sent to Windsor next year, Mr Le Gallais added.
With importing live animals not being permitted in Jersey, the King's gesture has helped the industry recover from the loss of around 15% of its dairy herd through the suspected botulism outbreak.
Mr Le Gallais said: “What happened at Woodlands was beyond devastating and they have shown great resilience since that time.
“The industry has already identified around 80 heifers which will go to Woodlands – it's not a quick solution, because it's two years [from birth] until any milk is produced, but there's been a lot of support.”
Pictured top - left to right: Attendees at the presentation of the heifers to Woodlands farm, Vicky Huelin (Freedom Farms), Phil Le Maistre (Master Farms), Paul Houzé (Lodge Farm), Rob Perchard (President, RJA&HS), Tom Perchard (La Ferme), Charlie Le Boutillier Woodlands Farm), Lieutenant-Governor Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd, Phil Le Maistre (Jersey Milk Marketing Board), Andrew Le Gallais (Cowley Farm), Jim Carter (Trinity Manor Farm) and John Le Feuvre (Les Augerez Farm). Photograph by Ollie Jones.
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