Seven Sussex cows are now grazing four hectares of meadowland at Denham Country Park as part of a grant-funded project to improve the natural habitat for the benefit of local people and wildlife.
Locally-based environmental charity Groundwork South, which managed the scheme, undertook a wildlife and biodiversity survey before the cattle moved in, and a second is planned for two years’ time.
Debbie Valman, Programme Manager (Thames Valley) Groundwork South, said: “The cattle have already made a massive impact on the meadow – when they first got into the field the grass would hide them it was so long and we sometimes worried because we could not see them.
“As a result of their natural grazing we’re expecting to see a greater variety and number of wildflowers and invertebrates move into the area, all of which can be enjoyed by local people and visitors to the park as well as benefiting the countryside overall.”
A footpath which runs through the meadow area remains open and Debbie says the Sussex cows were especially chosen for their gentle and friendly nature. Local schoolchildren, including some from Cippenham Primary School, have already visited to find out more about the project.
With support from the project manager and John Whitby, the farmer who owns the cattle, volunteer ‘lookers’ have been trained to keep a check on the welfare of the cows whenever they are passing and alert the farmer if there is any cause for concern.
Before the cows could move in extensive fencing had to be installed, together with a corral area and a pasture pump for water.
The project was part-funded by Grundon Waste Management, which donated £7,500 through the Landfill Communities Fund. This in turn helped Groundwork access funding worth £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery programme for a range of additional projects across the Colne Valley.
Anthony Foxlee-Brown, Grundon’s head of marketing and communications, said: “We’re thrilled to have played our part in bringing cattle into Denham Country Park. It’s great to see and hear that they are already bringing a great deal of pleasure to local people as well as improving the biodiversity of the countryside.”