New moombers of the team!
This month has seen the exciting arrival of some new team members; 3 Shetland cows with their calves including the devoted mother Gerti (who is easily recognised as she only has one horn) and most recently a Simmintal bull named Horatio!
Our countryside has been shaped for centuries by livestock grazing. Many unique plant and wildlife species depend on the grazing activities of cattle, sheep and ponies in order to survive. As part of our management of the wet fen and heathland on site, we will be grazing inside our three fenced areas each autumn.
These rare breeds are extremely hardy, the Shetlands having been bred to cope with the often harsh, wet and windy conditions and terrain of the Shetland Islands. Cows use their tongues to graze, wrapping it around plants and grasses and pulling it up. Together with trampling the ground, this helps create a mosaic of different plant heights and micro habitats.
We hope to introduce sheep in the next month, as a complement to the cows. Sheep are more selective and fussy than cows on their choice of food. Cows will eat more common and vigorous plant species, which allows more delicate or less competitive plants to grow, so increasing diversity. Sheep graze using their front teeth to ‘cut’ the plants which creates a uniform height often just above ground level. Using both sheep and cattle together will give us the greatest diversity of plant heights and structure which creates an ideal habitat for a wide range of wildlife.
Although only recently arrived, Horatio seems to have eyes only for Gerti…and all the animals are starting to make an impact on the long vegetation.
We will be moving the cows between the three different fenced compartments during the late summer and autumn, allowing us to maximise their impact and undertake our own management techniques alongside their grazing.
For your safety and welfare we ask that you please do not feed or touch the livestock.