Cattle return to the Old Hills

A small herd of Highland Cattle have returned to the Old Hills at Callow End.

The grazing is part of the Malvern Hills Trust’s work to conserve the open grassland and flower-rich meadow habitats of this area of common land.

The Highland Cattle, a breed with characteristics suitable for grazing on rougher ground, will spend the next two months nibbling off the young saplings and brambles.

Temporary electric-fenced compartments will be in place to concentrate the cattle grazing on specific areas.  Signage has been placed around the Old Hills to alert visitors to the presence of livestock and remind dog owners to put their dogs on a lead to keep the cattle safe.

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

“Over the last six years the cattle have been working their way through the scrub and opened up areas that were once impenetrable.'

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. 

As grazing here became uneconomical and the roads got busier local people no longer put their cattle or sheep out to graze and the trees and scrub started to encroach the grassland resulting in the loss of important open areas.

Following the loss of traditional grazing of livestock on the Old Hills, some areas have become more and more overgrown with scrub and trees.  This has led to a reduction in the amount of open grassland, which supports a wide variety of species.

An increase in the amount of trees and scrub also means that visitors are now unable to walk or ride horses in some part of the Old Hills due to the thick vegetation. 

The locations of cattle and sheep grazing on the Malvern Hills and Commons (within the Trust's grazing projects) is posted in the Malvern Gazette each week and updated weekly on our Stockwatch.