Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How now red cows

Right from the beginning it has been the intention to establish some sort of grazing at Rushy Common Nature Reserve and thanks to grazier Andy Colinswood this is now happening. The purpose is to improve the management of Rushy Common in the most effective and natural way posssible.

The cattle, 15 cows and 14 sucklers, arrived on 22nd June and quickly settled in. The impact of this number and the duration of time on site will be carefully monitored to see if these numbers are about right. The herd will be visited regularly by the grazier and a couple of volunteer stock watchers to check on their wellbeing and to make sure that the site remains stockproof. Notices have been put up with the phone number of the grazier in case of any problems observed by members of the public.

The cattle will be on site for the summer and early autumn. They are then housed indoors over the winter. They will eat longer grasses, push their way through scrub and trample the lake and pond edges which will help to increase the range of habitats on the reserve. Trampling by the hooves of cattle can create little pockets of bare earth that enable some of the less vigorous plants to get established.

Beautiful red colouring
Enjoying the long grass

The Red Poll breed was created by crossing Norfolk cattle, kept for excellent beef production with Sussex, which were predominantly kept for their dairy qualities. The Red Poll Cattle Society was formed in 1888 and the colour of the breed was by then established as red, preferably deep red, with white touches only on the tail switch and udder.
With its long traditions of both dairy and beef qualities, the Red Poll is therefore one of the original native dual-purpose breeds. In the first half of the last century it was one of the dominant breeds in English dairy farming, and has maintained the dual-purpose characteristics which now give the Red Poll such a valuable niche role in quality beef production.


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