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Llanwrtyd and district
The cattle drovers
 
  Shoes for cows, boots for pigs...  
 

The most valuable animals in the long procession of men, dogs, and livestock were the small Welsh Black cattle. An ancient native breed, they were very hardy and could cope with the poor grazing high in the upland areas. When they reached England they put on weight quickly in the richer pastures.
The drovers' journeys from Wales to England could take up to three weeks and cover hundreds of miles. They Welsh Black cowhad to make sure that the animals arrived in the best possible condition in order to fetch good prices when they were sold.
Progress across country was at a slow but steady walking pace, with regular stops for rest and for grazing.
But the drovers had another way of keeping the livestock in good shape, for many of the animals in the long procession were fitted with specially made shoes !

 
What ? You mean we're
supposed to WALK all
the way to England ?
 
Even the geese had protection for their feet. This was done by driving them through a mixture of soft tar and sand , which would form a very hard-wearing coating when it set. Sometimes they also had a metal foot set into the tar like very short stilts !
Drawings by
Rob Davies

The Welsh Black cattle were fitted with curved iron shoes like small horseshoes cut Pigs on the drove in half, with sections either side of the cloven hoof. These special shoes, called 'cues', sometimes had to be replaced on the long journey over very rough ground, and a blacksmith would often travel with the drovers.
The pigs in the procession had little woollen boots with leather soles fitted to each trotter.
The remarkable tradition of the Welsh drovers did not last for long after the steam railway arrived in some areas in the 1860s, and the livestock could be carried to market quickly in railway wagons. Some of the drovers tracks continued in use for a while for moving stock to local markets, but today the only reminders of the old routes are in the names of inns and fields.

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They fit ok, but have
you got them in another
colour ?
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