HERD the one about the football-mad dairy farmer?

While urban dwellers declare their national pride with flags flown from cars and houses, dairy farmer Rupert Tory has hit upon an emphatically rural method for showing his support for England’s World Cup squad.

The Winterborne Whitechurch man has united a can of bright red livestock marker with six Friesian cows to create the nation’s most patriotic herd.

“We have had quite a few people pass comments. Everyone has the same spirit during the World Cup. It’s a case of ‘anything goes’ and people have found it quite amusing,” said Rupert.

He first put paint to cow during the 2006 World Cup in a bid to win a national newspaper competition.

This year, Rupert has selected six of his herd’s calmer cattle to show his East Farm dairy’s national pride, including some veterans of the last international tournament.

“We used the quieter ones. It’s quite a procedure. We have to get them to stand still, and wash them before the crosses are painted. They have to enjoy the whole process,” he said.

The dairy has expanded from 50 to 200 cows under the guidance of Rupert’s father Norman, despite tough times induced by low milk prices. But Rupert believes endorsement from an England player or one of the WAGs could see the cow replace the miniature dog as the companion of choice for the celebrity set.

“A lot of the cows have to find another home when the reach a certain age. It would be fantastic if we could persuade a player to adopt one as a pet,” he said.

And what of England’s chances of lifting the World Cup? The dairyman is quick to dismiss neigh-sayers who claim his cows will come home before football does.

“If Robert Green hadn’t made that terrible mistake, England would have been comfortable. If the team does well, it will be fantastic for the country,” said Rupert.