Turning out the cows

(c) Marianne Fairclough

We’ve had a busy few weeks here at Stirley getting the fields ready for some of our cows to go back out to the fields...

We started by checking all the fence lines to make sure that they were secure - we had to do a few repairs where old fence posts had rotted. We then turned the water back on, check the troughs for any damage and give them a good clean so that the cows have plenty of fresh water to drink.

After that, we did a huge litter pick.  As you can see, we have a big problem around Stirley with people dropping litter, this was all collected from just one field!

Then it was time to put up some signage to make sure that people are aware that we have cattle grazing.

We have some public footpaths that run through our fields so it is important that we let people know that there are cattle so that they can be mindful of them and keep dogs under close control - especially as there will be a bull in one of them.

The first group to head out of the barn was a group of twenty, including last year’s calves and the youngstock who are now around 2 years old. We had lots of help from our colleagues which is always appreciated and it was great to get everybody out of the office and into the sunshine.

The cattle were a little unsure at first as there were no older cows to lead them but they stuck together and followed us through two fields to get to the one that they will stay in for the next few months.

They will stay outside until it is time to move them on, either to other grazing on the farm or to another reserve. It was great to see them outside again and we had a few jumping around and getting very excited about having fresh grass to eat!

Stirley cows in field

It was a beautiful day and we heard lots of birds singing and even spotted a kestrel hovering above the farm.

Cattle help us to maintain and promote wildlife around Stirley by keeping the grass short to allowing wildflowers to grow. Last year we spotted buttercups, daisies, yellow rattle, columbine and celandine to name a few. These flowers in turn attract insects which are then eaten by the birds.

We have also spotted deer around the farm and know that there are badgers close by so we have ensured we have left spaces through the fence line so that they can come and go as they please. Our team of Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders have even set up some camera traps to see if they capture anything!

Cows at Stirley

It was then time for Jupiter the bull and four steers, which are male cattle who have been castrated, to go out into their field. They are much closer to the farm and in a field with no footpaths through it, to keep everyone safe. Jupiter usually hangs back a little but this time he was at the front of the pack and couldn’t wait to get there!

Jupiter at Stirley

The cattle barn will now become a maternity wing until it is time for the cows and their new calves to go outside. We will continue to feed, muck out and bed down the cows in the barn and also check on those outside to make sure they have no injuries and have enough grass to eat and water to drink.

All photos are courtesy of Marianne Fairclough.