Dexter cattle come to Barnwood
The Friends of Barnwood Arboretum have welcomed the arrival of 3 Dexter cattle to graze their local nature reserve. Barnwood Arboretum, part of Gloucester City Council's Barnwood Park, relies on grazing animals to "mow" the grass and Dexter cattle are ideal for this purpose. The Dexter breed is the smallest native breed of cattle in the British isles and originated in the South West of Ireland.
Mechanical mowing would destroy the Arboretum's football sized nests of the resident Yellow Ants - nests that are also used as part of the lifecycle of the Common Blue Butterfly. The Arboretum has always been grazed in the past by sheep from Robinswood Hill Farm but the sheep were sold in 2010 when the farm was closed as part of Gloucester City Council's financial cutbacks. Council officers and the Friends have been trying to find animals suitable for conservation grazing since then and it is thanks to a new member of the group that links have been made with the owners of the Dexters.
Tish, Gussie and Malcolm arrived on Friday and it is their first visit to Gloucester so the Friends are hoping that local people will enjoy seeing them and treat them well. Visitors are asked to keep a reasonable distance from the cattle, to avoid startling them and to keep dogs on a lead.
Peter Curle from the Friends group checks Barnwood Park and Arboretum daily for litter and any other problems. "We have been preparing for the arrival of the Dexters for the last month, raising fences around the young trees and removing potential hazards. We are very excited to have animals grazing the Arboretum again. We hope they are hungry because the vegetation has grown prolifically this year with all the rain. We will be monitoring the cattle daily but would like visitors to contact us if they have any concerns about their welfare". Contact telephone numbers can be found on the gate into the Arboretum.
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Barnwood Park and Arboretum, in Church Lane, Gloucester, received the prestigious Green Flag Award this year for the fifth time since the Arboretum was opened to the public in 2002.