This painting of a Prizewinning Guernsey Steer by Denys Corbet, a well known local painter and poet of the Victorian and early Edwardian age, reflects the importance of this pure breed to Guernsey during this period.
The Guernsey breed is thought to have been derived from the Isigny cattle of Normandy and the Froment du Leon of Brittany but whether this dates back to when the island was first occupied by the Normans in the 1st century AD is not so certain. The Guernsey was first recorded as a separate breed at the turn of the 18th century and imports of cattle into the Island were banned from 1789 in order to maintain its purity. Around this time cattle and semen exports became increasingly important to Guernsey and now the breed can be found all over the world, with many countries forming their own Guernsey Cattle organisations to ensure the purity of the breed.
The quantity and quality of the milk produced by the Guernsey cow is world famous. Its golden colour reflects the very high content of beta carotene, a source of Vitamin A.
Denys Corbet wrote mostly in Dgernesiais, or Guernsey French. His best known works include L'Touar de Guernesy and Les Feuilles de la Foret.