One Of England's Famous Cheeses Is Facing Extinction

Winter is coming for the rare breed Gloucester cow. Photo: Getty

The 500-year tradition of one of England’s great farmhouse cheeses, single and double Gloucester, may be at an end because the Gloucester breed cows which supply the milk are facing extinction.

Just 450 Gloucester cows survive in the English county of Gloucestershire and disease and EU regulations may be bringing abut the premature demise of the rare cattle breed, the UK’s Daily Express newspaper reports. It’s the second time the cows have been on the brink of extinction. Forty years ago, the herd dropped to just 60 animals before a concerted breeding campaign saw it rise to 1000 in the 1990s. The breed has a distinctive white belly and tail and stripe down its spine.

Now, a lack of interest from farmers – the Gloucester cow produces less milk than some of its dairy rivals – and EU regulations to deal with tuberculosis have placed it in danger once again.

There are two types of the cheese, Single Gloucester, which can only be made from Gloucester cow’s milk, and is hard to find outside the region, and Double Gloucester, which is made commercially, but only cheese made from the local milk can carry the “traditional” label under the regional food protection scheme PDO (protected designation of origin). It’s a semi-hard cheese with a natural rind that rivals cheddar for flavour. Single Gloucester is more crumbly, with a lighter flavour and lower fat. Double Gloucester is aged for longer and has a stronger, savoury flavour. The deep yellow colour comes from a flower known as Lady’s Bedstraw.

The problem for farmers is that the moving bulls around is difficult because of tuberculosis (TB) and EU rules which prevent vaccination because they can’t be distinguished from infectious animals.

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