26 June 2012
Albert the bull joins his cows at Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Natural England, Glenariff Pedigree Livestock and Norfolk Coast Partnership recently welcomed Albert, a pedigree Galloway bull, to Dersingham Bog NNR. A pedigree Galloway bull of Scottish-Canadian breeding, Albert hails from Biggar in Scotland.
In line with his high pedigree and bloodline, Albert appears to be a quiet and docile bull, and will spend his time on the reserve with four female Galloways, hopefully leading to the birth of calves in late February/March. Albert was met by Natural England Senior Reserves Manager, Ash Murray who was able to gauge the public response to Albert. “The response was wholly positive. Most visitors took a detour to come and see him, took photos, and sat watching him for a while. Immediately after releasing him, we watched a large family with several noisy youngsters and a dog on a long lead pass within 15 feet of Albert, stopping to take photos and point. Apart from looking up from what he was doing, Albert paid little attention to them and seemed very quiet.”
Nick Barrett, a Glenariff Pedigree Livestock breeder, who will be working with Natural England to manage the herd said “The bull, like the cows, is bred from some of the finest bloodlines available – we can look forward to producing a top class herd of Galloway cattle in the near future!”
Having some of the last remaining lowland heath in the area, Dersingham Bog NNR needs to be actively managed to prevent it becoming overgrown with scrub. The rare species this Reserve supports - like nightjars, woodlarks and the grayling butterfly - need open habitats with different levels of vegetation. Galloways are an ideal breed of cattle for the type of rough grazing that the Reserve requires and they will control the growth of scrub and grasses that would otherwise dominate the heathland. Albert’s arrival marks the start of a long-term plan to increase the herd of Galloways to 10 -15 breeding females, who will be ‘hefted’ to the site for the rest of their lives, therefore developing an intimate knowledge of the Reserve.
Partnership work has played an important role in the introduction of the Galloways onto the Reserve, with invaluable advice, effort, time and funding provided by Norfolk Coast Partnership (NCP) and Glenariff Pedigree Livestock. NCP’s Community and External Funding Officer, Kate Dougan said, "Dersingham Bog is a key part of the wonderfully diverse landscape of the Norfolk Coast area of outstanding natural beauty. We are delighted to help look after it through our Sustainable Development Fund by providing funds for the purchase of this bull."
Information and signs are in place around the reserve, and will regularly be kept updated. Visitors are asked to treat the Galloways like the wildlife on the reserve - with respect, peacefully and with dogs on the lead, and just enjoy viewing them.
Notes to Editors
For further information and photographs, please contact Lyndon Marquis, email@example.com, 0300 060 4236
Galloways are a docile breed and you may not encounter them on a visit. However, Natural England offers this advice for walkers and dog owners whenever cattle are encountered:
Where livestock are present, always proceed with caution
Do not run
Keep your dog on a short lead
Do not get between cows and their calves
If the cows become agitated and crowd around you, let go of your dog.
The reserve comprises three distinct habitats: mire, heath and woodland. Acid valley mire is found over much of the low-lying parts of the reserve where the ground is waterlogged for most of the year. The wet acid peat of the mire is characterised by rare plants, including bog asphodel, round-leaved sundew, cranberry and white-beaked sedge. Rare insects thrive here too, including glow-worms, dragonflies such as the black darter, and moths such as the light knot grass. The mire lies on shallow peat and is bordered on one side by a steep escarpment - itself containing large areas of dry heath and woodland - which marks the edge of an ancient coastline. The woodland at Dersingham is quite recent and contains Scots pine, oak, sweet chestnut, sycamore and birch. The woodland glades attract birds such as redpoll, crossbill, long-eared owl and sparrowhawk. Woodlark and nightjar breed on the Reserve annually. The best time to visit the reserve is between July and August.
About Galloway cattle
The Galloway is a maternal breed and the cows are easy calving. Galloway cows can be out wintered and only require the minimum of feeding and thrive on unimproved rough grazing. On hill and upland pastures the unselective grazing action of the Galloway improves the natural herbage for domestic stock, wildlife, and game through the removal of excess roughage. Galloway cattle are naturally polled, which means that they do not have horns.