TB Testing Conservation Cattle

Well that’s TB testing at Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve over for another year; fortunately, all the cattle were non-reactors and passed as clear. I’ve lost the two Belted Galloways, Wayne and Waynetta, to Puxton Marsh Nature Reserve, a few miles down the road. In fact, only Jill, Rose, Tulip, and their calves remain part of the new twelve strong marsh herd. Cattle were transported to Wilden Marsh from areas close by for their TB tests, and when it was time for them to go back the their patches it was a matter of those willing to go into the trailer were the ones making the journey. One of the Galloways was first into the trailer and since they are brother and sister, the other Galloway was shipped out also. Obviously, the cattle get very excited during the tests and when they are about to be shipped out, so there isn’t time to be fussy about which animals stay and which go. I have to say, though, that the new marsh cattle don’t seem to have much go about them, but it’s early days to be making such judgements.

The Wilden Marsh herd is now 100 percent Shetland cattle, courtesy of the Wyre Forest Animal Grazing Project. I’m sad at losing the Galloways because the Shetlands would often follow them into grazing the less accessible areas of the marsh, and they are most enthusiastic thistle eaters. The Galloways are stout beasts, with minds of their own, and they will eat almost any vegetation growing on the marsh. Still, the marsh herd has increased from nine to twelve with the new calves, and there might be other calves popping out next August, courtesy of Billy Bull. It is also rumoured that a young bull will arrive soon, to keep the girls on their toes.

Billy Bull passed his TB test back at the farm, and his future looks bright; although, he might be swapped with a bull from another area to maintain herd bloodline diversity.

There has been a lot of maintenance activity on the marsh lately: trees growing under power lines have been coppiced, river and brook blockages removed, and a new nature area has been created along the River Stour north of Hoo Brook. Stock fencing has to be reinstated in the Riverside and Hoo Brook Pastures, and a new corridor to join these two pastures is to be created. Another contractor is about to start removing a large rubbish raft from the section of the River Stour running through the Tenant Farmer’s Field Corridor.

I shot this video in low light conditions on Tuesday evening, the day after the TB tests. We received the results on Thursday.

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