In July 2012 we reintroduced summer grazing of cattle onto University Fen. Four Highland Cattle, Delia, Cecily, Chocolate and Cornflower – along with Chocolate’s new calf – grazed until the end of the autumn to maintain the structure and composition of the marsh habitat and manage encroaching scrub.
Cattle have come back to campus each year since their first introduction in 2012. For the first time, in 2015 UEA also hosted a flock of sheep. Around 10 sheep were grazed on paddocks on the edge of campus. ‘DEV Farm’, on the edge of campus, houses several ponies, including Shetland Ponies, that are popular with staff and students as part of their exploration of the green areas of campus.
The campus cows graze from around June to November, to avoid boggy ground.
In June 2015 UEA introduced a small herd of Shetland cows to the shrub and fen land. These are an ancient rare breed from the Viking era. Again these beauties will graze until autumn to help maintain the structure and composition of the land with their selective thinning and beneficial presence.
As well as habitat maintenance through grazing, the cattle dung both fertilises the soil and provides a new habitat that increases insect biodiversity. This benefits other areas of the food chain, attracting bird life.
Tom Everett, Landscape Manager, appreciates more than the great work the cows do to open up new areas to fen plantlife and to encourage insects. “They just have such great presence, and personalities,” he said. “There are always people hanging out with the cows. I’ve seen staff and students take their lunches down – it’s very calming, watching the cows wander around!”
Where are the cows? Follow Trail 1 of the UEA Wildlife Trail