Four Aberdeen-Angus cattle have joined the parkland teams at the Trentham Estate to help restore and maintain heathland and woodland pasture at the popular visitor attraction.
Home to formal gardens, including the famous Italian Gardens, and Capability Brown landscaped parkland, Trentham also manages 86 hectares of at-risk woodland pasture and over nine hectares of at-risk lowland heath habitat.
And as well as a hard-working specialist estate team, Trentham – on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent – has turned to the animal world to help maintain landscapes the natural way.
Lending a helping ‘hoof’ is a range of livestock, which play a vital role in managing the heath and woodland areas.
Trentham already uses British rare breed livestock including Hebridean, Jacob and Herdwick sheep, which not only allows more natural land management, but also helps to conserve the genetic pool of these threatened species.
Now the new Aberdeen-Angus cattle have arrived at Trentham to play their part too.
They will be roaming lower North Park, grazing the woodland pastures to help clear non-native invasive plant species, such as Himalayan Balsam, and creating a mosaic of tussock grasses, native wildflowers and thickets of bramble and thorn.
After their work is done there, the cattle will move onto the lowland heath, which is one of a number of habitats Trentham is currently working in partnership with Natural England to restore and enrich.
Having been cleared of commercial non-native conifers in 2014, the planned restoration of the lowland heath is developing well with a broad range of heathland plants including heather, lichens, mosses and specialist grasses now re-establishing there. The cattle are able to control the gorse and birch regeneration, and control non-native invasive plant species such as Himalayan Balsam, far more sustainably than manpower or machinery.
However, roaming livestock and wild fallow deer herds mean that visitors walking their dogs are asked to keep their pets on leads in those areas of the park, to avoid injury or distress to the animals.
For more information, see www.trentham.co.uk