Bickershaw welcomes herd of highland cows to spruce up grassland

Seven highland bullocks have arrived at Bickershaw Country Park to help us improve the grassland for wildlife.

Rod, Mick, Charlie, Brian, Keith (all named after rock legends), and Dunster and Massey (named after the two historic farms that Bickershaw now resides on) will spend their days at Bickershaw munching through the tough, overgrown vegetation. As they keep the grass in check, less competitive flowering plants will have chance to thrive, in turn helping a range of insects, invertebrates and birds to make the area their home. Skylarks and lapwings are just two species of bird that prefer nesting in shorter, more open vegetation, and we can’t wait to see if their numbers increase after the cows have paved the way for their next generation.

Rod and his other highland friends came to us after living a life of luxury at a manor in Lincolnshire. Unfortunately, their previous owners were forced to sell some land, leaving the herd with an uncertain future. Thankfully, they gifted the cows to us, giving both the herd and Bickershaw’s wildlife a much brighter future.

Highland cows in their new home at Bickershaw Country Park

Cows are perfect for grazing the grassland at Bickershaw as, unlike sheep, they wrap their tongues around clumps of vegetation to pull it up, rather than simply cropping it. Grazing in this way creates small patches of bare earth ready to be populated by new seeds. The highland cows are also less picky eaters, with their hardy gut capable of digesting tougher vegetation.

The area of Bickershaw which the highland cattle will be grazing won’t only be important for wildlife, but also encompasses part of the Environment Agency funded ‘Slow the Flow’ works. The Slow the Flow scheme is all about returning the watercourses on Bickershaw – a former colliery site – to their former glory; extending the route of streams, creating new wetland and connecting fragmented watercourses to slow the flow of water and improve the floodplain, protecting residents downstream.

The Bickershaw Project is a three-year project aiming to completely transform Bickershaw Country Park into a haven for wildlife and the local community, who are incredibly supportive. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without their support, which is why we gave them the chance to leave their mark by naming the bullocks now known as Dunster and Massey! The names were chosen during a competition on the Bickershaw Project Facebook page, with the two lucky winners getting the chance to tour Bickershaw with our Project Officer, learn about our conservation work and meet the cows themselves.

Click here to enter the competition