Isla-Jean (left), Lindsay and Fiona Tregonning with their two English Longhorn calves. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Lindsay Tregonning jokes he could have bought a jet-boat or
gone on holiday instead of purchasing English Longhorn cattle
embryos from the United Kingdom. But the long-time beef
cattle enthusiast was intrigued by the breed, regarded as the
oldest pure breed of cattle in England.
He had seen them on the internet and loved the look of them.
The first attempt at breeding, using semen, was unsuccessful
and it was decided to have a crack at some embryo
When it came to calving time at the Tregonning farm at
Woodside, near Outram, last November, there was great
excitement, as Mr Tregonning, his wife Isla-Jean and daughter
Fiona awaited the arrival of what they believed to be the
first purebred English Longhorn cattle to be born in New
A heifer and a bull calf, both derived from embryos implanted
by specialist embryo transplant veterinarian Neil Sanderson,
duly arrived and did not disappoint. Mr Tregonning was
particularly impressed by their growth rates.
According to the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New
Zealand's website, the Longhorn is regarded as the oldest
pure breed of cattle in England.
Its origin is obscure but, historically, the breed was
abundant, especially in the northern counties. It was
imported extensively into Ireland at an early period.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Longhorns were an ideal
all-purpose breed for the period. Their size and power,
coupled with a quiet temperament made them ideal as draught
animals and their milk was especially suited for making
butter and cheese. When Longhorns were no longer in demand as
working animals, their numbers decreased rapidly as
specialist beef breeds became more widespread.
By the mid-20th century their numbers were dangerously
reduced, but they have since been saved from extinction by
the efforts of enthusiasts.
The Longhorn was named for its extra-long, typically
down-curving, horns. It should not be confused with the Texas
Longhorn, which is a quite different and unrelated breed.
Mr Tregonning believed the breed was ideal for small
properties and they seemed to handle rougher feed without
fertiliser. While they ''looked pretty'', they were also ''a
decent beef animal''.
He was keen to get some other unrelated embryos and build up
the numbers. While there were English Longhorns in Australia,
if they could get some different bloodlines, then that would
give them a different market.