Cows on Tiptree Heath
The Heath has grazing cows because over the years, many ways have been attempted in maintaining and improving the quality of the Heathland. None are as successful as the natural method - grazing animals.
In April 2008, after a 2 year consultation, Defra gave permission to install stock fencing around two compartments for protecting the grazing cows.
Where are the cows now?
Now that summer has ended and the cows have now gone back to the smallholding.
The Benefits of Cows Grazing
Grazing animals help maintain the heathland, preventing the growth of certain trees and scrubs, allowing the heather and flora without being suffocated. Volunteers and machine work alone is not sufficient or sustainable alone.
Initially goats were considered, but generally goats and dogs do not "get on" and the Heath is used by dog walkers. Likewise, sheep were discounted for the same reasons.
The Dexter breed were chosen as they are a smaller cow that are of a docile nature and are not nervous of people.
Dexter cows are a sturdy, traditional breed that can live outside without needing a barn to shelter.
The cows only graze on the Heath during summer months from the end of April to the end of September, depending on the weather. This is because in winter months there is not enough grass to digest the rougher food.
The cows come from a smallholding at West Hanningfield
. They eat brambles, small gorse, birch saplings amd oak saplings. Our hope is that they will gradually take control of the re-growth of all these invasive shrubs so the heathland will not continue to be choked by them.
There will be clear notices posted at the entrances to the heath telling where the cows will be each day.
Around May, the cows are returned to the heath, and to begin with the numbers may be small depending on the amount of grass available, which helps them digest the rougher scrub that they eat.
This year, we have two cows from last Jenny and Macadamia, who have been joined by Heather (Macadamia's calf from last year), Parsley, Stella and Medlar.
Macadamia is a very busy cow, who gave birth to Hazel in July (see News ).
At this point, Macadamia and Hazel were returned to the small holding that could take better care of them, as Hazel found her feet.
After some initial care, Hazel was soon joining the rest of the new calves and bounding around like any youngster would!
The cows have returned to the farm at the start of September due to the drying out of the vegatation. While we would like them to be here longer, they have made a good impact in their 4 months on the heath.
Access to the Compartments
There are kissing gates and field gates at various points where the fencing crosses existing main gates.
All kissing gates are accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs, but not horses.
Only one compartment will be used at one time, and field gates into a compartment will be unlocked when it is not being grazed.
Approaching the Cows
While the Dexter cows are fine around people, always approach them with care.
Horses and Dogs
We never know how any two animals will interact, and we ask you to take great care with your horse and dog while around the cows. It is advisable that dogs be kept on leads when around the cows.
If any horse rider wishes to enter the cow grazing compartment, they can obtain from the warden, or the Tiptree Equestion Centre (TEC), the padlock combination for the field gate. This does place on them responsibility of making sure that the padlock is re-locked after they have entered and left, so that the cows remain secure.