Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
The use of local livestock in this manner extends beyond farming enterprises to
the marketing of place and its local products (Yarwood and Evans 1998). Local
historic livestock animals are also used in the iconography of particular places
(Higgins 1993). The Cotswold Sheep is used in the emblem of the Cotswolds Area
of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as is a leaping Dartmoor Pony in the
Dartmoor National Park and the Swaledale Sheep in the Yorkshire Dales National
Park. The unique and wild appearance of Highland Cattle are used in tourist
adverts to market similar qualities in the Scottish Highland landscape. In
Gloucestershire, the Uley brewery produces a beer called 'Old Spot' which is served
in many local hostelries, including the 'Old Spot' public house in Dursley,
Gloucestershire. Affection for the Gloucester Old Spot Pig is used to sell local
products and the pub itself uses images of the breed in much of its internal decor.
When particular breeds of livestock are used to market particular places and
experiences in these ways, they both reinforce and exploit existing local loyalties to a
breed. Such marketing can be beneficial to a breed as it sustains local interest in it
and further encourages people to keep it for its 'heritage' value. This helps ensure
the survival and continuation of many breeds in their places of origin, and farm
parks are valued for their contribution to national breeding and conservation
programmes. However, constructions of animals in this way can be problematic, for
two main reasons.
First, many rare breed centres keep animals which appeal to the public more
through their long horns, shaggy coats, unusual size or curious markings than their
historic connection with locality. Many farm parks keep animals such as White Park
Cattle, Leicester Longwool Sheep, Shire Horses or Gloucester Old Spot Pigs for
these respective reasons. Although 'unusual' animals have a novelty value that
appeals to visitors, they can shatter local landscape coherences if they are kept in
places which have no history of farming with these breeds (Evans and Yarwood
1995). Furthermore, this focus on 'unusual' animals has meant that plainer livestock
have been lost, for, as Alderson (1990:54) laments: '[M]aybe if the Irish Dun and
Suffolk Dun [cattle] had been a more spectacular colour they might have escaped
Second, rare breed centres are aimed at a lay public who have little experience of
farm animals. Consequently, the animals are clean, healthy, docile and even have
'pet' names. This has contributed to a sanitisation of livestock, even in RBST-
recognised farm-parks. This is furthered by the use of livestock caricatures to
promote a range of products, including toys (Houlton and Short 1995), holidays,
television programmes and food (see Evans and Yarwood 1995). It is necessary to
consider how these anthropogenic constructions affect the ways in which animals
are perceived by different groups of people and how these are expressed in various
discourses of rurality, especially given recent reports of conflict between farmers and
non-farmers over the place and role of livestock in the countryside (Cloke 1993;
Yarwood and Evans 1998). The following section begins to address these issues by
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