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

Hooray! The Sun is Shining and I can See The Grass Growing

A brilliantly sunny dawn broke with my cup of tea this morning; after the dismal weather we’ve had lately, it’s a very welcome change.

There was no need to search the north marsh for cattle, because they were waiting in Hoo Brook corral enjoying the infrared heat of the early morning sun. The two belted Galloway’s coats warm up very quickly in sunshine and, with the air temperature being quite sharp, laying my cold hands on Waynetta’s radiator-like coat soon gave them a rosy glow.

The herd watched with indifference as I separated Buttercup and walked her through the gate and down the ramp into Hoo Brook corridor. They watched my return and climb into the hay feeder with raised ears twitching. I knew I had their attention, and they were maintaining their composure.  The sound of cattle nuts tumbling from the bag into Buttercup’s bucket was just too much for them to bear; they lurched forward jumping, bucking, mooing and bellowing. They soon had their necks and heads stretched through the feeder rails, and their waving tongues fully extended.

I climbed out of the hay feeder, barged my way through eager cattle, and ran the gauntlet to the corridor gate with Buttercup’s bucket swinging in all direction to avoid the persistent lunges of Wayne and Waynetta in particular. They pushed and shoved me to the gate, but failed to knock the bucket from my hands.

Buttercup’s calf was left with the others in the corral, whilst I fed her mother. As Buttercup ate her breakfast, I wandered down for a look at the river. Ten to fifteen minutes later, I opened the gate and let the rest of the herd down the ramp and into the corridor. The calf rushed over to Buttercup with an amazing and touching display of affection for her mum; Buttercup was not having such sloppiness and pushed her daughter away – it’s a hard world for a small calf.