The Royal Jersey Herd at Windsor, England
Kensington Palace What to see: The rooms is hung with paintings collected by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, including, The Victoria Cow by Thomas Sidney Cooper. The cow was sent to the Queen from Jersey in 1843 and was said to have been named ‘Victoria’ from the ‘V’ shaped mark between its horns. The picture was commissioned by the Queen who was said to be delighted with the finished work.
In 1837 Her Majesty Queen Victoria ascended the Throne, and shortly after graciously granted Her Royal Patronage upon the Jersey Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society. She visited the Island of Jersey with the Prince Consort in 1846, when a gift of fruit was presented to her. The following year the Society sent a two year old heifer (bought from Mr. Thomas Filleul for £23) and a yearling bull with another heifer, both given by the Society`s President, Sir John Le Couteur, to Windsor, where Sir John, representing the Society made a gift of the animals to Prince Albert.
Sir John Le Couteur tells in his diary: "Took a mail train from Paddington to Slough, got there and on to Windsor by 10. Called to see Lord Spencer, the Lord Chamberlain...who oblingly sought for Colonel Phipps. He being away, the Earl referred me to General Wemyss at the home farm, where the appointment was made, and here I repaired.
Unluckily for me the Queen had just driven to see the cattle...and had just left, otherwise I should have explained matters to herself in person unattended, for Her Majesty happened to be in her pony chaise. I sent my card to the Prince, who sent for the cattle to show them to the Duchess of Kent at Frogmore.
There we found the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia, the Prince of Saxe Weimar, the Prince of Saxe Leningen, Prince George of Cambridge and a host of attendants. All the royalty came out with Prince Albert, who spoke to me in the most kind and affable manner, even so much so as to reach out his hand, then to recollect etiquette: and very kindly and politely expressed his sense of the compliment, a very acceptable one, of the very beautiful cattle which the Jersey Agricultural Society had made to him: and desired me to make suitable thanks to the society in the most gracious terms. The animals were greatly admired. The Grand Duke asked the Prince what were their valuable points beyond their beauty. The Prince of Saxe Weimar put me the same question, which I explained. The Prince then handed Tocque and I to General Wemyss and charged him, as he afterwards told me, to show us every civility and attention. The kind General then took us all over the royal aviary, dairy farms etc., where everything is nearly "comme il faut". His farming is really good, and real improvements have taken place since old K., the late King`s farmer had them".
Victorian Voices. An introduction to the papers of Sir John Le Couteur, Q.A.D.C., F.R.S. by Joan Stevens.
Both the Queen and Prince Albert were extremely interested in agricultural reform, setting up a model farm on their new estate at Osborne and enlarging and improving the farms at Windsor and Balmoral.
Their involvement lent further momentum to the national agricultural movement. Cattle Show was held at Windsor Home Park. The Queen named her favourite farm animals after members of her family and employed several artists to paint them. In 1848 the famous animal painter Thomas Sidney Cooper was summoned to Osborne House in Isle of Wight to paint Queen Victoria`s Jersey Cow "Buffie" which had been presented to her by the Island of Jersey.
Most of the paintings of royal farm animals have been dispersed or destroyed, but fortunately
photographs of several of them survive in the Royal Collection inventories. More sophisticated farm animal paintings, such as Keyl`s Among the Southdowns or Thomas Sidney Cooper`s Jersey Cow, were hung inside the Royal Palaces.
There are two dairy herds at the Royal Farms, which date from George III's reign. The farms were at a low level during subsequent reigns due to lack of interest, until Prince Albert raised the farms again to the status of model farms.
In 1849, Prince Albert arranged for the pasture land to be stocked with dairy cows, mainly Dairy Shorthorns but also some Jerseys (known contemporarily as Alderney cows), which were the foundation of the existing Jersey herd.
The other dairy herd at the Royal Farms is an Ayrshire herd, formed in 1951 in the last year of George VI's reign. Each herd numbers 150 cows. By tradition, the herds have been kept to Jerseys and Ayrshires.
Milk was and is still supplied from the Jersey herd to the Dairy (built in 1858 in Windsor Home Park under the personal direction of Prince Albert); while the creamery remains unchanged, the outbuildings have been equipped with up-to-date dairy machinery. The Dairy used to supply not only the Royal family but also a large number of Castle and Home Park residents, but it began to run at a loss. Since 1975, it has supplied dairy produce only to The Queen, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, The Prince of Wales and Princess Margaret; the rest of the milk is sold to a national wholesaler.
By 1863, there were 80 Shorthorn and 12 Alderney cows being milked at the farm and total stock totalled 240 head. The first Jersey cow recorded on the farm was in 1871 with the arrival of Pretty Polly from Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, where Her Late Majesty, Queen Victoria had a small herd. There are 10 cows in the herd today which can be traced back to Pretty Polly.
Fauvic`s Juanita was bought in 1931 and Coronet`s Grace and Lionheart Grace are direct descendants in the herd today. Queen Lavender 1913 has five progeny milking at this time.
There appears to have been a period of establishment with no further female additions recorded until the early 1950s when the Sandringham herd was dispersed. At this time the Sandringham Jade, Galaxy and Nan families were added. In 1959 two Hursley cows, Riff and Reverie, were purchased and made a strong impression on the herd. Riffs breeding features in the cows Polyanthus, Cyclamen and Gillyflower. Reverie produced Cardinal`s Kerrie and Lousise`s Prophecy and has more than 20 offspring in the herd today.
Purchases from the Jersey island and the mainland in the 1960s and 70s extended the female base. The Natalie family through Golden Natali`s Maid, Sparkling Natalie and Surprise Sparks Natalie have made significant contributions being descendants of Natalie`s Nell.
In 1977 the Crocus and Haughty families were introduced from the world-famous Ferdon herd in New Zealand. Since this time further families have been added to strengthen the female side.
On the paternal side some notable sires have been used. Browny`s Louise`s Sparkler and Itaska`s Fillpail King from the Island of Jersey both made significant contributions with Sparker siring many Royal Show champions.
With the introduction of New Zealand blood into the herd there is no doubt that Ferdon Glens Coronet and later, Ferdon Tandra`s Elton both left their stamp. It is interesting to note that the winning Burke Trophy pair at the Royal Show 1982 were sired by Coronet and out of cows sired by Sparkler.
To complete the international contribution, Canadian bloodlines have been introduced through the legendary Meadowlawn Bright Spot and Valleystream Silver Jay. An outstanding example of the latter sire is seen in Windsor Silver J. Octobergirl 3 EX92 out of a Coronet cow. Currently, Meadowlawn J Imperial is being used.
The Royal Jersey Herd Windsor. Brochure, 1992.