Cattle make welcome return to Old Hills

This autumn, a small herd of furry faces made a welcome return to the Old Hills, Callow End.

Over the last three years, a local farmer has worked with the Malvern Hills Trust to reintroduce a small herd of highland cattle to graze this landscape.

Highland cattle are a rare breed suited to the rough pasture at the Old Hills.  They do an excellent job of grazing the anthill-filled grassland to benefit species such as the green woodpecker whose main food source is ants.  Cow pats are also an important resource for invertebrates which provide food for mammals, such as bats, further up the food chain.

Mark Roberts, Deputy Conservation Officer, who’s been working on the grazing project said ‘By maintaining the grassland using natural and traditional methods we are working to preserve habitats, maintain landscape character, open up views and keep the common accessible for people to enjoy.’

The Old Hills were once grazed by cattle and sheep all year round by local farmers.  The land is still registered as common land which means that at any time, commoners with grazing rights can put their livestock up on the Old Hills.  When the last cattle and sheep left the Old Hills, as grazing here became uneconomical and the roads got busier, the trees and scrub started to encroach the grassland and these open areas were lost.

The Trust are asking walkers keep their dogs under close control at all times when walking on the Old Hills and to keep them on a lead near livestock.  Livestock worrying, including chasing, is a criminal offence and is distressing for all involved.  Keeping a dog on a lead can stop such attacks from happening.

The cattle will be on the Old Hills for a couple of months within a temporary electric fenced enclosure during October and November  They will then be taken off the Old Hills and will return again 2018.