Government to sell off rare Shetland Cattle herd
The longest established herd of a rare cattle breed looks set to be sold off by the Scottish government, sparking anger among breeders and crofters.
The state-owned Shetland Cattle are kept to safeguard one of four surviving blood lines of the livestock.
Animals in the Knocknagael Herd have been entered for a sale at Dingwall auction mart next week.
The Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society (SCHBS) and Scottish Crofting Federation have attacked the move.
They are concerned the herd will be broken up or sold for slaughter.
Shetland Cattle are a hardy breed used for milk and beef production.
Society chairman Addie Doull said: "There have been several occasions when government accountants have tried to get rid of the herd in the name of 'efficiency' and numerous attempts have been made by SCHBS to assist the Scottish government to save the nine remaining cows from being lost.
"These efforts appear to have been disregarded.
"Unfortunately the current political climate seems to have provided an opportunity for Scottish ministers to deal the fatal blow."
SCHBS was informed by letter of the plan to auction the herd.
Eleanor Arthur, chairwoman of the Scottish Crofting Federation, said: "It is ironic to find out that the Scottish government has decided to quietly sell off the longest established herd of this breed in existence, in the same week as the Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society celebrated their centenary."