Seven highland cows have been given a new home on a Lancashire nature reserve, where they can live out the rest of their days helping to improve grassland for wildlife.
Michael Midgley, of cattle handling business JM Midgley Farm Services, was asked by one of his local customers in Lincolnshire to find a home for the highlanders after he was forced to sell some land, leaving the herd facing an uncertain future.
The owner was happy to give them away to a good home but wanted to make sure they wouldn’t be slaughtered and hoped he would be able to visit them.
Michael regularly supplied his cattle handling system and helped to look after the bullocks. After contacting various estates and public bodies, he approached the Lancashire Wildlife Trust who were able to help.
The highlanders now have a new home at Bickershaw Country Park where they will graze on the tough, overgrown vegetation. Keeping the grass in check will mean less competitive flowering plants will be able to thrive, helping insects, invertebrates and birds.
Skylarks and lapwings prefer to nest in shorter, more open vegetation and the trust said they are excited to see if numbers of these species increase after the cows have got to work.
Highland cattle are perfect for the job, the trust added, as their hardy guts are capable of digesting much tougher vegetation and, unlike sheep, they pull up clumps of vegetation rather than cropping it – creating bare earth that can be populated by new seeds.
The seven bullocks have been named by members of the local community in a Facebook competition, and now go by Rod, Mick, Charlie, Brian, Keith (named after rock legends) and Dunster and Massey (named after the two historic farms that Bickershaw now resides on).
Commenting on the successful rehoming, Michael Midgley said: “It was great to have a happy ending to this particular story.”