The Herd is Back in Hoo Brook Pasture

I managed to get the herd back into Hoo Brook Pasture yesterday, without having to call in the Rangers to help out, following the teenager incident on Tuesday night; it took me three days to do it though. When the cattle slipped out of the corral for their early morning drink in Hoo Brook Corridor, I slipped in and closed the gate on them – as simple as that!

I tried many things to entice them back into Hoo Brook Pasture, but the cattle are not stupid and were well aware of what I was trying to do. For once, the herd held the upper hand and ran rings around me – literally! It was inevitable, though, that I would overcome in the end.

I was cutting thistles in Hoo Brook Pasture yesterday, with two other Wilden Marshers, in baking heat. The cattle walked silently past us and hid out of sight in amongst the trees, at the east end of the pasture, and we saw neither hide nor hair of them all day. The presence of two strangers unsettled them. After a hard day’s work slashing thistles, we walked out of the pasture, up the ramp, and into the corral. As soon as the cattle heard the corral gate being locked they appeared, excitedly mooing and bellowing, to reclaim their ground. The teenager incident has certainly affected them. When I am working the pasture on my own, the cattle are usually milling around and getting in the way. Cattle are not the dumb animals some people make them out to be, and they should not be treated as such. When working around cattle for any length of time, it soon becomes apparent that they have admirable sensibilities, and deep feelings for others of their herd. I think cattle react depending on how they are treated. Cattle have friendships, they groom each other, they have their special ways of doing things, and they are creatures of habit. All the marsh cattle are sensitive to me – I don’t think I have enemies within the herd. Waynetta is particularly protective of me, as she is of the calves.

Once again, harmony reigns on the north marsh.

Another Bull Calf Was Born on Wilden Marsh Today

From Hoo Brook ramp I could see Jill Shetland on her own in Hoo Brook Corridor. The other herd members were busy grazing Hoo Brook Pasture. Jill looked at me and then nervously into the dense vegetation near the stock fence. She again looked at me and again into the dense vegetation. I walked over to her; a metre away was Jill’s new-born calf. The calf lay dead still with its eyes fully open. I approached slowly. The calf looked up and allowed me to stroke it. The calf stood, shakily, and I stroked it behind its ears and along its neck and back. New born calves usually run from me, but this one was happy to be handled. Jill looked on and lowed softly. Jill has given birth to a bull calf.

Lowing softly, Jill took charge and led her new calf into Hoo Brook Pasture to meet the herd. I videoed the event with my phone camera.

I thought I had a conservation herd grazing Wilden Marsh, but it looks like I now have a nursery herd.

Terry Bull might be lacking in stature, but he is certainly on top of his job.

Calves Playing and Suckling

The herd made the move from Falling Sands Nature Area successfully this morning, crossing the service road and Hoo Brook bridge to access Hoo Brook Pasture; although, they were a bit slow to get going at first. As usual the move disturbed their rest period. I tried to get Waynetta the lead the herd, but she is too easily distracted by tasty morsels. Finally, Tulip picked up her hooves and ran for Hoo Brook bridge and the others took her lead and quickly followed. So it was an easy move in the end, particularly with help from Rangers Ollie and Adam to make sure that the new calves didn’t do anything silly.

Life on Wilden Marsh for Rare Breed Conservation Cattle

The cattle are having the most marvellous time on the marsh at the moment. They have free access to much of the north marsh and are able the choose the tastiest of new lush vegetation on which to dine; they even have the luxury of turning up their noses at less palatable plants. However, things are about to change! The herd is to embark on some serious work improving Hoo Brook pasture for the next week or so, before moving on to their next job grazing the new Falling Sands Nature Area, and after that North Riverside Pasture is in line for similar treatment. It’s time for the Wilden Marsh conservation cattle to earn their keep by improving our new lower grade pastures. I’m hoping the cattle work their magic on our lower grade pastures and turn them into high-grade SSSI pastures over the next 3-5 years. We’ll see!

Some of the herd taking it easy in North Pond Pasture

Some of the Wilden Marsh herd taking it easy in North Pond Pasture