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Big Sheep Little Cow

Thursday, September 6th 2012

Four Dexter Cattle were delivered to their new home on the wetland earlier this week.

These four old ladies have come from Big Sheep Little Cow in Bedale, and will help us to manage the area over the next couple of months.  The habitat here is managed primarily for wading birds; ideally the sward should be short with some longer tussocks to provide shelter and cover.  Grazing during the autumn and at a low density in spring will help provide ideal conditions for the waders to breed.

They seem to be settling in well, and are already eating thier way through the long grasses.

Taking a stroll across the moorland you will find four Belted Galloway cows, and a mixed flock of Herdwick and Swaledale sheep.  Grazing has a beneficial effect on grassland plant communities, through the removal of plant material and creation of bare areas by trampling.  This allows the less competitive species to become established as the cover of the more dominant is reduced, creating more complex and diverse plant communities.  Invertebrates also benefit from good grazing regimes; structural deversity in the sward provides habitat for many different species, and over 250 species of insects have been found on cattle dung in the UK!

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