Cows return to graze on Broad Meadow to help habitat

For the third year running Tamworth will welcome the return of grazing cattle to help look after Tamworth’s ‘jewel in the crown’ - Broad Meadow Local Nature Reserve.

Summer 2016 welcomed the first herd of cattle to Broad Meadow during the summer and autumn months. This year the fritillary count, recorded in April, is at its highest this century, all down to the improved management resulting from cattle grazing on the site.

Around 20 Hereford and Angus cows will arrive at Broad Meadow this week and will be making the 24-hectare site their home until winter.

While they are there, they will be roaming free and grazing the grass – improving the habitat for wildlife and creating better conditions to allow the spread of the rare snake’s head fritillaries which grow wild there.

The conservation grazing project is an innovative partnership between Broad Meadow owner Tamworth Borough Council and farmer Jim Newton, who owns the cattle, with the support of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust through the Wild About Tamworth project. It also has the support of Natural England.

The cattle will be allowed to graze the site until winter, when they will be moved off and returned to their farm before the ground becomes too wet. They will then return to Broad Meadow next spring.

While the cattle are on Broad Meadow, they will be free to roam as they please across the site, which is very popular with dog walkers. The Hereford and Angus breeds of cattle have been chosen to live on the meadow because of their docile natures.

Large signs reminding dog walkers to be considerate and responsible by controlling their pets, cleaning up after them, closing gates and not allowing their dogs to approach or worry the cattle are now being put up around the site.

The farmer will carry out checks on the cattle several times a week, but if you have any welfare concerns, please contact Staffordshire Wildlife Trust at the media office on 01889 880140 or email: info@staffs-wildlife.org.uk.

Wild About Tamworth Officer, Shelley Pattison, said: “This is a very exciting project, which has brought huge benefits to the ecology of Broad Meadow over the past two years. The cows grazing have previously helped to keep the grass short, encouraging better growth and spread of snake’s head fritillaries and other species. This in turn has improved the habitats for the animals which live and hunt there.

“The cows themselves benefit from free range pasturing – and their presence on Broad Meadow has been welcomed by visitors to this lovely natural site.”

Cllr John Chesworth, Cabinet member for Culture and Operational Services, said: “This conservation grazing project is a very innovative and forward-thinking way of managing this unique Local Nature Reserve and I am delighted that we are able to support it.

“Two years ago Broad Meadow officially received Local Nature Reserve status, which allows the site to be protected as a conservation area for future generations. I am delighted to see how the cattle’s grazing has already made a massive impact on this reserve.”

Anyone who would like more information about getting involved as a volunteer at any of the Local Nature Reserves should contact Wild About Tamworth officer Shelley Pattison on 07970 067711 or email tamworth@staffs-wildlife.org.uk