Cattle ‘let loose’ as part of natural care plan on meadows

A 15-strong herd of hand-reared Hereford cattle has been released on Ronkswood Hill Meadows, as part of an annual conservation exercise by Worcester City Council.The cattle will be allowed free rein on the local nature reserve site, to help preserve grassland and wildflowers.

The initiative is designed to act as a natural and cost-effective way of keeping the grass short enough to allow the vast array of wildflowers in the area to get sunlight to grow and hopefully thrive.

Nick McGowan, Conservation Officer at Worcester City Council, said: "The cattle will graze at this site for around six months, helping to manage the grassland and encourage wildflowers whilst protecting the reserve's ridge and furrow landscape and ant hill colonies."

The meadows are home to a wide range of wildflowers including black knapweed, cowslips and birdsfoot trefoil but if grass grows too high these flowers will not flourish.

The cattle will therefore play a pivotal role in boosting the flora and fauna as well as producing other positive spin-offs such as an increase in butterflies and improvements to the natural soil environment.

The City Council will put up signs on Newtown Road and Tolladine Road to warn walkers and dog-owners to take a little extra care and keep dogs on leads or under close control when cattle are nearby.

Nick said: "The sudden re-appearance of cattle may take a few people by surprise but the animals will be too busy chewing the cud to take notice of any passers-by." 

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