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 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.