It's Our World: Huddersfield herd giving nature a helping hand

Stirley Farm cows put out to restore Calderdale pasture

Stirley Farm cows out to pasture at Broadhead Clough Nature Reserve, near Hebden Bridge.

A herd of Huddersfield cows is giving nature a helping hand.

Beef shorthorn cattle from Stirley Farm, Castle Hill, have been put out to pasture at Broadhead Clough Nature Reserve, near Hebden Bridge.

The herd will graze the nature reserve in low numbers which will check the growth of more dominant plants allowing less competitive vegetation to gain a foothold.

It is hoped increased plant diversity on the site will support a greater variety of invertebrates, such as bees and butterflies, as well as small mammals and birds which in turn feed on invertebrates.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which runs Stirley Farm and the nature reserve, has also been erecting new fences to prevent the cows wandering into an adjacent wood.

The delicate woodland has several sensitive mires and bogs, which would be damaged by trampling.

And because of the site’s remote location a helicopter has been flying in the fencing.

Ian Smart, manager at Stirley Farm, said: “Using cattle from our own stock, we are able to better control the times of year they graze the site. This gives us greater flexibility to react to the changing conditions of the nature reserve being grazed and adapt as necessary, for example moving the cattle off when the job is done, or keeping them on for longer periods of time if the desired change is slower to take hold.

“It is also useful for us at the farm to have sites on which to graze our steers, or young male cows, away from the rest of the herd. Once they are fully weaned it is important that we separate them from the female cows and grazing our nature reserves allows us to do this.”

Broadhead Clough Nature Reserve is home to cuckoos and woodpeckers as well as beautiful plants including marsh violets and wood sorrel.

For more about the reserve visit: www.ywt.org.uk/reserves/broadhead-clough-nature-reserve

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