Following the success of grazing goats at this historic park and garden alongside the M32, 20 cows will be arriving from today (Tuesday, 11 May), helping to care for the landscape through conservation grazing. Made up of Shetland, Hereford, British Blue and Holstein cows, the herd will improve the biodiversity of Stoke Park and provide a more sustainable and natural way to manage the land.
Last year’s One City Ecological Emergency Strategy, which saw organisations across Bristol come together in the first coordinated drive to protect natural life in and around the city, unveiled a 10-year plan to protect wildlife, ecosystems and habitats in the face of the rapid decline in wildlife locally and globally. Among its objectives was a commitment for at least a third of land in Bristol is to be managed for the benefit of wildlife by 2030, including by finding new spaces for nature to thrive throughout the city’s urban landscape.
Cattle can often get to places that machinery cannot and they also help stop the spread of scrub and invasive, more dominant plant species. This allows other plants, including wildflowers, to thrive, which will encourage insects, which in turn provide food for birds and mammals.
Wildflower grassland is not only a beautiful landscape to enjoy, but a rich habitat for many species including butterfly and bee populations.
A whole host of wildlife will also make a cowpat their home - more than 250 species of insect can be found in or on cattle dung in the UK and these in turn provide food for birds, badgers, foxes and bats.
The cows will be coming to Stoke Park Estate from a local farm in Frampton Cotterell and will be checked daily by the herdsman and park rangers.
Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for Communities, including parks, said: “Our city’s wildlife, ecosystems and habitats are vitally important to us all, as the loss of biodiversity affects our lives in many ways, from the insects that pollinate our food to the green spaces that enhance our resident’s health and wellbeing.
“The cows’ arrival at the Stoke Park Estate is part of Bristol City Council's work with One City partners in declaring an ecological emergency in February of last year in response to the decline in wildlife.’’
Herdsman Toby says, “Stoke Park offers a wide variety of grass and scrubland which means the cows get a great diet that doesn’t need to be supplemented with things like soya.
“Having the cattle in Stoke Park also gives people who don’t have experience of farming or animals a chance to see them and appreciate the role they play in conservation. We look forward to meeting the public who are welcome to speak to our staff about how we look after them and the benefits of grazing for our wildlife and natural landscapes.”
Fields containing cows will be clearly signposted and alternative routes will be available to avoid the cows completely.
The herd will be limited to one field at a time with advance notice given before the cows are moved to a different field. Dogs will need to be kept on a lead while walking through these fields and gates must be closed behind you. All cows have been health checked for TB (Tuberculosis) and have been wormed.
Visitors are being advised to not feed the cows as this could make them sick and they will already be very well fed.