Herd returns to Arlington Court

Ruby Red graze again at stately home for the first time in more than half a century.

A LONG-established breed of rare cattle has made a return to a North Devon stately home after what is thought to be an absence of more than 60 years.

A herd of Red Rubies now grazing at Arlington Court, near Kentisbury, is helping owners the National Trust to ensure high quality meat production and conservation go hand-in-hand.

Rangers at the estate, left to the Trust in 1949, originally re-introduced the livestock to find a sustainable method of land management.

But thanks to a partnership with local fine food producer Heal Farm Fine Foods, the meat produced is finding favour with many of North Devon’s top chefs.

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Among the local restaurants that have served the beef in the past few months are The Masons Arms at Knowstone; Lathwells at Bideford; High Bullen Hotel at Chittlehamholt; and The Rising Sun at Umberleigh.

John Emms, from Lathwells, said: “It’s exceptionally tender and full-flavoured. The reasons being, that the animals are treated well and the meat hung properly.”

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Mark Dodson, from The Mason’s Arms, added: “It’s beautiful meat because it comes from a good place and the animals are well looked after.”

Arlington has 26 cattle at present, including seven breeding females. Ruby Reds have more natural marbling than continental animals and are therefore highly prized for the flavour of the meat.

Ranger, Stuart Ayres, said: “Traditional grass-fed livestock production benefits nature and landscape conservation because it creates a more diverse habitat, allowing wild flowers, insects and small mammals such as bats to thrive.

“The grounds here at Arlington were initially tenanted, but now we manage the 150 acres ourselves and the Ruby Reds are an ideal breed because they can thrive on any type of grass.”

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