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There is a growing interest amongst farmers and conservation bodies of the role cattle can play in benefiting the local landscape and habitats. Cattle like Galloway are less selective grazers than sheep and can favour certain vegetation special to certain sites, which includes areas of land designated as Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The heavier weight of cattle can have a positive impact on bracken and low scrub, breaking up mats of dead litter and creating pathways through tall dense vegetation. The cattle can also create more ground disturbance and benefit tree seedlings by “burying” them into the ground.
Wild Ennerdale Partners is one such group which has sourced a small herd of Galloway cattle to graze their land, Silver Cove, a site which includes heather fell, open grassland, conifer and broadleaf woodlands, crags and scree. They have found the Galloway is well suited to this type of mixed vegetation and forest on upland terrain, they are quiet, placid breed and is more likely to move away from (rather than approach) people they do not recognise, the exception to this would be if they were young calves, in which the cow would try and protect her offspring. The Galloways have been deemed so successful that an opportunity has arisen to introduce a second herd into the valley. The Cattle introduction is experimental and Wild Ennerdale Partners are very keen to monitor the impact of cattle, this is carried out by fixed point photography, small enclosures, aerial photography and vegetation surveys. In addition a tracking collar has been fitted to one of the cattle, making locating the herd easier and monitoring herd movements within the site.
With thanks to Wild Ennerdale