Bringing in the heavies

Shetland cattle have been introduced to Petershill Wildlife Reserve near Bathgate in West Lothian to help maintain important habitats.

Shetland cattle at Petershill Wildlife Reserve © Andrew Nuhi
Shetland cattle at Petershill Wildlife Reserve © Andrew Nuhi

These hardy cattle graze and trample fast-growing grasses and prevent grassland which is rich in wildflowers being overtaken by scrub. They also help to maintain areas of open water on the reserve. This management benefits a wide range of wildlife including wildflowers, insects and amphibians.

The cattle are watched over by a small team of dedicated local volunteers who make daily checks to ensure that fences are secure and livestock is in good condition.

Reserve Manager Julian Warman said: “For many years we’ve been relying on the hard work of volunteers to keep vegetation down by cutting and raking. However, this is labour-intensive and cattle can do the same job much more easily, and more effectively.

“Having grazing on the reserve over autumn winter will make a big difference, and help Petershill remain a haven for wildlife.”

Petershill Wildlife Reserve covers two former reservoirs outside of Bathgate in West Lothian. A wide range of wildflowers including orchids can be founds, which in turn supports around 15 different species of butterfly and moth. The reserve’s lagoons are a haven for amphibians.

The introduction of cattle has been made possible following the installation of new gates and a stock-proof fencing funded by Avondale Environmental Ltd and West Lothian Council through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund as administered by LandTrust as well as Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Lothians Local Group.

 

Preface

Shetland cattle have been introduced to Petershill Wildlife Reserve near Bathgate in West Lothian to help maintain important habitats. These hardy cattle graze and trample fast-growing grasses and prevent grassland …

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