Lincoln Reds breeding is a 100-year-old tradition here

A field of buttercups forms a lovely yellow back-drop to a Lincoln Red cow and calf being held by Catherine Bettinson and helper Tom French. Photo (MIKE DAVISON): SG290512-98MD
A field of buttercups forms a lovely yellow back-drop to a Lincoln Red cow and calf being held by Catherine Bettinson and helper Tom French. Photo (MIKE DAVISON): SG290512-98MD

CATHERINE Bettinson is breeding minority breed cattle on the same pasture at Whaplode Fen that farmers were using for the same breed 100 years ago.

Catherine breeds Lincoln Reds and, when sorting through old photographs, unearthed an image taken almost 100 years ago showing Lincoln Red cross cattle beside a tree that still exists at the side of their home.

Catherine is also continuing a family tradition by using Fenlady as the prefix for her cattle.

She says the Bettinsons were renowned breeders of hackney horses, exporting them as far afield as America.

Her husband Rob’s grandfather, who came from Fleet Fen, used the prefix Fleet Lady, and Catherine says: “Whaplode Lady was a bit cumbersome so, coming from Whaplode Fen, we called them Fenlady so it was carrying on a family tradition.”

Catherine and Rob have been keeping cattle on their mixed farm for nearly 40 years, buying the first Lincolns from a local farmer in the 1970s to go alongside their commercial cattle.

“They weren’t registered, but we knew they were a minority breed and we wanted to do something,” says Catherine.

They went on to join the Lincoln Red Cattle Society and Catherine is a past president of the society.

They then bought cattle from one of the top breeders in the country, adding pedigree cattle to the herd in 1995.

For the past 12 years Catherine has focused on the Lincolns and now has 35.

The farm is also in Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

Catherine says Lincolns are very easy as a breed, doing well on poor pasture – so doing well in droughts – calving easily and producing plenty of milk.

The animal provides a speciality, marbled beef.

Catherine, who has won lots of rosettes at shows over the years, says: “Lincolns have taken off tremendously these last few years and at the spring sale in Newark the top bull, not mine, made 18,000gns.”