- Small size – This can be important in many ways. A small cow minimises the poaching of the ground in winter. They are less intimidating for the inexperienced. And perhaps most important of all, they eat less. The Shetland cow weighs between 350 and 500kgs.
- Health – Only the strongest survive the harsh climate of the Islands in winter. The Shetland developed over centuries into the hardy little animal we see today, which can live in or outside. There is no disease associated with the Shetland.
- Easy calving – The Shetland's ease of calving is legendary. They have a pelvic width second only to the Jersey cow, and their small calves, typically around 40kg, are unlikely ever to present problems.
- Temperament – The Shetland is the original house cow. They have always been known to bond quickly with a new owner. They have a natural docility. When a cow was sold on Shetland a piece of cloth from the crofter's wife's apron would accompany her to the new home so the cow would allow her new owner to milk her.
- Longevity – Shetlands mature early and live long. It is not unusual for a cow to be producing calves in its late teens and even later.
- Attractiveness – The Shetland is aesthetically pleasing. The main colour is black and white, but red and white is now established with grey, dun and brindled cattle reappearing in small numbers. The original Shetlands would have been seen in a variety of colours. They have delicately shaped inward and slightly upward curving short horns (Viking style).
- Natural Meat and Milk – The Shetland was originally classed as a dairy breed. This means that it will produce a fast growing calf and still find enough milk for the family. The meat from the pure bred Shetland is truly exceptional. Owners have little difficulty in finding a premium market for their produce, assuming they are willing to let some go from their own freezer! Being grass fed, the meat is lower in saturated fat.
- Diet – The Shetland has evolved over the centuries to be an adaptable breed. It will live well on poor grazing supplemented by hay or silage in winter. It does not need expensive concentrates. Herds can be found grazing Scottish lowland bog, English heathland, coastal grazing marsh and woodland.
So, whether you are an experienced smallholder or a complete novice, we believe the Shetland is the ideal cow for you. It has been honed by generations of Shetland crofters, yesteryear's smallholders, expressly to provide the qualities that today's smallholders are seeking. What's more, stock is readily available at very competitive prices.