The cows are back in town

The new pair of cows at Bog Meadows Nature Reserve, in west Belfast, which have returned to help continue the long tradition of grazing the meadows for wildlife.
The new pair of cows at Bog Meadows Nature Reserve, in west Belfast, which have returned to help continue the long tradition of grazing the meadows for wildlife.

Cows have returned to Bog Meadows Nature Reserve, in west Belfast, to continue the long tradition of grazing the meadows to help wildflowers and pollinators thrive.

New stock proof-fencing and improved access to fields has enabled Ulster Wildlife to bring the cows back after an extended break, thanks to funding from the Alpha Programme, as part of a major environmental enhancement project currently underway at the nature reserve.

A cross between a Blue Grey and a Solaire, the pair of new ‘mooers’ are versatile and hardy grazers, well-suited to withstand the elements and to help benefit biodiversity at this urban oasis. The pair will be on site until the end of December, returning in the summer.

“We are thrilled to see the cows return and get back to traditional grazing of the meadows,” said Deborah McLaughlin, nature reserves officer with Ulster Wildlife.

“Cattle grazed here right up until the 1960’s and are important in helping to sustain this special habitat and its local character. They eat grasses and prevent scrub taking over the fields. They also disturb the ground which helps wildflowers to colonise.

“Through carefully managed grazing, we hope to see a flower-rich meadow in full bloom next summer, buzzing with butterflies, bees and a host of other insects,” she added.

Melvyn Waddell from Groundwork Northern Ireland, who administer the Alpha Fund, said: “This sort of biodiversity activity at Bog Meadows is exactly what the Alpha Fund aims to support.

“It’s great to see landfill tax credit funding making such an impact and our Steering Group wish Ulster Wildlife all the best with Bog Meadows in the future.”

Ulster Wildlife uses conservation grazing to manage many of its grassland nature reserves across Northern Ireland, working with local farmers where suitable animals are available.

To find out more about Ulster Wildlife’s work to secure space for nature in our countryside, towns and seas, visit www.ulsterwildlife.org

For more information on the Alpha Programme, or to apply for a grant, please click online at www.groundworkni.co.uk or contact Mel Waddell on 028 90 749494.