Cattle milked for ability to munch unwanted plants

THEY were bred for the windswept moorlands of the South West of Scotland.

But five Belted Galloway heifers are now helping turn back the clock 60 years at the Tophill Low nature reserve near Driffield.

Back in 1950, the reserve was a working farm with cattle grazing its wetland pastures.

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But when it was developed as a water treatment works by Hull Corporation, the farm was demolished and what was left became overgrown with trees.

Yorkshire Water, which now runs the site, obtained permission from the Forestry Commission to restore a five-hectare area at Hempholme, cutting down hundreds of poplars and horse chestnuts.

Original ditches were restored using OS maps from the 1850’s, liberating dormant seeds from the soil and helping create a carpet

of wild flowers, including threatened species such as the large flowered hemp nettle.

The cattle will ensure the site doesn’t revert to woodland.

Richard Hampshire, Yorkshire Water’s warden, said: “This is all part of our commitment to managing the reserve sustainably and ensuring

it remains one of the most biodiverse sites in England.”

He said the cattle had already started munching away at quickly-spreading plants like reedmace.