Cattle

While there is a tradition in the the Blessed Isles‘ Gaelic speaking territories of referring to deer as “fairy cattle”, there are plenty of actual cattle in the Otherworld. Three species are recognised as being native or naturalised to the Otherworld.

The Eurasian Aurochs (Bos primigenius primigenius) is extinct in our reality and has been since 1627, when the last recorded aurochs was killed in Poland. It’s not entirely clear when the last normal aurochs was observed in the Blessed Isles but the shy Otherworld variety remains extent. Typically, they stand as tall at the shoulder as a human, although the cows can be up to two feet shorter than the bulls. Both sexes have massive horns that are significantly different from the shapes seen on domestic cattle. Unlike their extinct counterparts, the Otherworld Aurochs is white or very pale with round, chestnut colour ears and a chestnut stripe on the spine. Temperament tends to be calm and disinterested as long as there is no provocation and their spirit form is said to be very beautiful.

The European bison (Bison bonasus), also known as the European wood bison, Wisent and Wesend, disappeared from the Blessed Isles by the twelfth century with all names being borrowed from other languages or reconstructed from earlier terms. The surviving Otherworld variant looks very similar to the bison observed in Poland being dark chestnut with relatively short horns. They live in small herds in woodlands and are typically very shy and nervous of humans walking through their territory. Unnatural Resources continue to refuse calls from Europe to undertake breeding programmes or share the Otherworld population for conservation efforts.

Domestic cattle (Bos taurus) have been too well kept in the last few centuries for there to be many recent escapees to Otherworld freedom. Therefore, if a normal sized cow is observed while in the other reality, it is likely that they are part of the small but self-sustaining population. Typical descriptions match that of the Welsh and Cornish black cattle found in our own reality, although red-haired individuals are known. The beasts are typically shy but curious when their spirit form is recognised.

The typical description of (non-deer) fairy cattle is very similar to that of the Otherworld Aurochs variant, and there have been a number of attempts to recreate the look with domestic lines. There are suggestions that the records of legendary Irish cattle could either be captured aurochs or specific breeds of domestic cattle. Due to the enclosure of agricultural land, none of the more recent attempts appear to have found their way into the Otherworld but the three extent attempts (the related Chillingham, Vaynol and White Park cattle) are all said to be descended from the aurochs without any domesticated breeding. Requests to verify this with DNA testing have so far been rebuffed.

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