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Spring calves help wildlife to flourish at Huddersfield’s Stirley Farm

Tuesday 9th May 2017

Newborn calf at Stirley Community FarmNewborn calf at Stirley Community Farm

Twelve new calves at the Trust’s Stirley Farm site are supporting conservation efforts by grazing the land, which allows wildflowers to flourish.

Since being rescued from dereliction in 2011 by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Stirley Community Farm has gone from strength to strength. Its herd of Beef Shorthorn cattle have had a large hand (or hoof) in its success and this spring twelve thriving calves have been welcomed to the fold.

Frolicking calves and wildflower meadows create an idyllic picture, but the new additions also have work to do. Now out and about at the farm and on nearby reserves, the calves are part of a successful conservation grazing plan which has restored the area to its wildlife-rich glory.

Cows clear land of coarse vegetation and invasive scrub species, giving less competitive plants like wildflowers an opportunity to thrive. At Stirley Farm, their grazing is carefully monitored; once the length and density of the grass is just right, the herd is moved on to another meadow so that new vegetation can claim the space. As the flora diversifies, a wider range of insects, birds and small mammals are attracted to the site.

The herd’s success provides a wonderful example of how farming can complement a landscape rich in wildlife. The Trust’s Living Landscapes scheme aims to develop a flourishing network of green spaces that will allow wildlife to move between habitats. Thanks to the Beef Shorthorn herd, the thriving meadows at Stirley Farm provide wildlife with a stepping stone to other suitable habitats nearby.

Kara Jackson, Gateway Team Leader at Stirley Community Farm, said: “Our herd is making a wonderful difference to local wildlife, and we’re so pleased that we have twelve strong new calves. In the past, we’ve had issues with Bovine Neosporosis which causes abortion and stillbirth in cattle. This is caused by people not picking up dog poo, so we encourage all visitors to the Stirley Community Farm site to clean up after their dogs. As well as grazing the land, the herd provides a great incentive for people to support the farm. For an annual payment supporters can receive 10 kilograms of delicious grass-fed beef.”

Stirley Community Farm is a hive of activity all year round, with plenty of events available for school groups, families and individuals. For a more relaxed meander around the farm a monthly Sunday morning drop-in session is available. The annual food festival in September gives visitors the opportunity to sample Stirley Farm produce, including beef from the farm’s Shorthorn herd, and locally-brewed beer.

For more information about events at Stirley Community Farm, please visit ywt.org.uk/whats-on.