Conservationist cows to arrive in Camberley

Karen Neville

Belted Galway Cattle

Give them a quiet welcome, says Surrey Wildlife Trust

Starting this month, public access areas of Barossa nature reserve in Camberley will play host to a special band of black-and-white visitors – a 36-strong herd of native Belted Galloway cattle owned by Surrey Wildlife Trust.

During the spring and summer months, the steers play a vital role in keeping the site in good condition for nature by keeping vegetation including Molina grass under control, thus creating ideal habitat for species such as Nightjars, Dartford Warblers, Silver-studded Blue butterflies and a range of reptiles including Common Lizards and Adders.

With the animals set to arrive on 06 April, the Trust is reminding people not to be intimidated by the cows, but to treat them with respect. Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Grazing Manager Tamsin Harris says: “As well as being a popular spot for walkers Barossa is an important site for Surrey’s wonderful wildlife, and our cattle are helping keep the area special – but it’s important to remember that they are there to do a job, not to make friends. They are bred for a placid temperament but please don’t feed or pet them, remember to give them some space when walking past them and keep dogs under control.

“We hugely appreciate the support of local people in helping our herd stay happy.”

Conservation grazing is widely used by Surrey Wildlife Trust to manage wildlife habitat, whether it be grassland, woodland, wetland or scrub. It is less intrusive to wildlife than burning or cutting excess vegetation, and grazing animals can access areas which people and machinery can’t.

Many of the rare flora and fauna that exist within Surrey now relies on this type of management to survive, and Surrey has used cattle, goats, sheep and native Red Deer for these purposes on sites including Chobham Common, Quarry Hangers, Ash Ranges and Pirbright Ranges. Belted Galloway cattle originate from the lowlands of Scotland and are particularly suitable for grazing both heathland and chalk grassland thanks to their hearty appetites for course grasses and scrub as well as softer vegetation. Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Belted Galloway cattle are moved across multiple sites according to the season and the needs of each site. The 36 steers arriving at Barossa this month will remain on site until early November.