Scottish grazers to breathe new life into Medway Marshes

Tuesday 19th March 2013

Highland cows standing in a fieldHighland cows © Greg Hitchcock

Majestic golden Highland cattle are set to become a familiar part of the Holborough Marshes landscape.

The livestock is being introduced by local grazier, Norman Coles of Roundoak, to the Kent Wildlife Trust nature reserve, situated on the southern banks of the River Medway between Snodland and Halling.

Conservation grazing is necessary to help maintain the delicate balance of flora and fauna on approximately 30 acres of the marshland.

Highland cattle thrive and breed where no other cattle could exist and are remarkable for their versatility and longevity - many continue to breed to ages in excess of eighteen years. They have a natural and unique ability to convert poor grazing efficiently, making a real contribution to their environment, which is why they can now be found throughout the World - from the Andes to Kent!

It is planned that initially about six to ten Highland cows will be introduced to the marshes in the early part of this year with numbers building up to between 10 and 15.

Roundoak, based at Sutton Valence near Maidstone, is home to around 550 Hebridean sheep (one of the largest flocks in the UK) and 65 Highland cows and calves. Their stock is already a familiar site around Maidstone and West Malling’s country parks.

Norman Coles of Roundoak, said: “It is hoped that the Highlanders will become a familiar site on the marshes for some time to come and the relationship between Kent Wildlife Trust and Roundoak will flourish and perhaps extend to other sites where the Trust does such a good and valuable job.”

Roundoak can be contacted on 01622 844491 and welcome visitors to the farm by appointment for private and personal tours.

The Trust manages Holborough Marshes, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), on behalf of the landowners Lafarge Tarmac. A new long term lease is currently being agreed with Lafarge Tarmac to ensure continued management remains with the Trust with financial support being given by the landowner.

The reserve is open to the public year round, has an impressive array of birds and plant species and important populations of water voles and dragonflies. Further details can be obtained from 01622 662012 or email info@kentwildlife.org.uk

Hebridean sheep can already be seen in the Medway Valley because of the Lafarge Tarmac flock.
 

Tagged with: Living Landscapes, Conservation, Grazing, Highland cow, Holborough