How a shaggy-haired herd of cattle are helping some of the country's most endangered butterflies

Farm manager Alec Smith with his Luing cattle

The high brown fritillary

First published in News by , Reporter

A HERD of shaggy four-legged conservation heroes is helping an upland farm in the Lake District to become a haven for some of the country’s most endangered butterflies.

Luing cattle have been recruited to graze the land at High House Farm, Winster, to create an ideal habitat for Cumbria’s high brown fritillary butterflies.

The high brown fritillary depends for its life cycle on woodlands and grassland where there is sufficient light to promote growth of violets – the preferred food of the insect’s larva.

MORE TOP STORIES:

Under a Natural England Higher Level Stewardship scheme, the Luing herd is grazing the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), where their trampling helps to keep bracken in check.

This allows violet plants to grow and the butterflies to thrive – its numbers dropped by more than 90 per since the 1970s.

Farm manager Alec Smith has found that the Luings’ Highland heritage makes them suited to the fells and is delighted that the herd is helping improve the wildlife habitats.

“We have worked hard over the last ten years to establish and grow a herd at High House Farm,” said Alec.

Related links

“We needed a breed that could manage our rough land with minimal handling, but still deliver a high commercial yield.”

Simon Humphries, Natural England’s area manager, said: “Luing cattle are proving to be an excellent native breed to use where conservation grazing is needed and well-suited to the uplands of Cumbria.

“This is a great example of how enhancing the environment also makes good commercial sense and shows these two factors can go hand in hand.”

To help showcase the environmental and commercial benefits of the breed, the Luing Cattle Society is breaking with nearly four decades of tradition by holding its annual open day in England.

The event is on August 1, at High House Farm and will provide an opportunity for farmers, existing and potential Luing breeders and food, farming and forestry industries to find out more about the breed.

To register visit http://winsterluings.tumblr.com/openday2014

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree