Angus cattle grazing on the Summerhill Estate
(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

Summerhill has long championed the cause of the Angus breed of cattle, and it’s a well-known fact that we’ve been home to one of the country’s better commercial herds for more than the past two decades. An intriguing incident happened on the farm of a fellow breeder recently, when one of our colleagues went out one evening to check his cattle grazing on maize stover in the reaped maize lands after dark. He asked his wife to bring the spot lamp in case there were any predators around the cattle.

When they arrived, they were surprised to find the cows standing in a circle, and upon shining the spotlight onto the cattle, they discovered a lamb in the middle of the circle. On closer inspection, they discovered the lamb had been mauled on its hindquarters, and turned the spotlight away from the cows to find a jackal standing some 20 metres off. It was evident that the cows were protecting this newborn lamb (just over a week old) from the jackal.

The couple took the lamb home and nursed it back to health. Since they themselves do not farm with sheep, they enquired of their neighbours the following morning, none of whom were missing any of theirs. How the lamb arrived among the cows, nobody’s able to fathom. How the lamb knew the cows would protect it, remains a mystery. There’s no explaining animal instinct.

Either way, this is an amazing display of nature’s mothering instinct, especially among the Angus breed. The distressing bleats of the lamb led them to drive off the jackal, and form a circle of protection around the lamb. It’s some story, isn’t it?