September 22 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, August 3, 2014
A herd of sheep are set to join the grazing livestock in Weston Hills, Baldock as part of the latest improvements to the nature reserve by North Herts District Council and the Countryside Management Service.
The sheep, which belong to a local farmer, will be reintroduced to the steeper parts of the site at Gibbet Hill, to help to control the grass and low shrubs found there.
Their natural grazing will encourage a wide variety of specialised plants to thrive rather than allowing one to dominate.
Six English Longhorn cattle also returned recently to graze the north of the site near Limekiln Lane to help maintain the grassland and its natural diversity of flora and fauna from mid-summer through to October annually.
For a chance to find out more about this beautiful and docile breed there is a guided walk on Wednesday, August 6 between 7pm and 8.30pm.
As sheep are far more at risk from dogs than cattle, access to the sheep grazing area at Gibbet Hill will be temporarily closed to the public to ensure they are kept safe and minimise any distress.
There are however, plenty of alternative routes available to users of the nature reserve and these will be signed on site. The rest of the site will be open as usual.
Councillor Peter Burt, North Herts District Council’s portfolio holder for the environment said: “The sheep are able to access the parts of the site which are too steep for the cattle reach.
“Returning to natural grazing rather than using machines to cut grassland also helps to preserve the unique habitat of Weston Hills and enhances the rich diversity of plant and bird life for which the site has become well known.”
Angela Forster of the Countryside Management Service said: “The sight of sheep grazing across the chalk hills of north Hertfordshire would once have been commonplace. It created fantastically diverse grassland, the remnants of which are still found at Weston Hills and in a tiny handful of other sites in the district.
“Their reintroduction to Gibbet Hill will help us conserve this special place for future generations.”
For more information about Weston Hills, the history of the site and its diverse wildlife visit www.north-herts.gov.uk.
To meet the cows on Wednesday go to the Ivel Way entrance – for more information call 01992 556466.