All About Moo - Meet Paddy, Percy & Pedro

Around a year ago, we welcomed three miniature Hereford steers named Paddy, Percy and Pedro to our farm. Cows play an important role in rewilding projects alongside low densities of other grazing animals. These animals act as proxies for the megafauna that shaped our landscape before human intervention and the different ways in which they graze and behave creates a complex and dynamic ecosystem that is rich in biodiversity. We’re not quite ready to introduce grazing herds to our farm yet – we are already seeing a pulse of natural regeneration across the land as self set trees and scrub begins to establish. The hedgerows and the trees nestled within them have provided an amazing seed source and rose, hawthorn, sallow, birch and oak is springing up very quickly. However, we need to let these young plants grow a little before we start to introduce too many grazing animals.

Cows and pigs on the farm

However, we wanted to gain some experience of handling livestock on the farm and decided to dip our toes in the water. We have chosen miniature Herefords for a number of reasons. Herefords are a traditional British breed and are well known for being docile and easy to handle which was a key factor for us. As our farm is relatively small as far as rewilding projects go, having smaller animals also makes sense for us and it means that we will be able to have more individual animals in the long run.

Miniature herefords

In one area of the farm, we have a field that had historically been used to graze cows. Although it had been enriched with fertiliser in more recent years to support larger numbers, once the grazing pressure was removed, it was clear that this field still retained memories of once being a flower rich meadow. Within a couple of years, the field was covered in pignut and meadow flowers such as cowslip, ragged robin and great burnet started to appear. We decided to manage this field like a traditional meadow and to reduce the fertility, we take a cut of hay from it at the end of summer, and Paddy, Percy and Pedro have been grazing there over winter. At the end of February, we will move them off this field and allow the meadow flowers to grow once again.

One of the cows on the farm

Within the next few years, the cows we introduce to the farm will help to restore and maintain natural, dynamic systems in the landscape. Their grazing will promote a more diverse and balanced plant community, the disturbance they cause will create a mosaic of habitat structures that will in turn promote heterogeneity and diversity and their dung will aid seed dispersal. When combined with the different grazing patterns of small numbers of deer, horses and pigs, the overall effect will help to enhance the biodiversity and bring as much life back to the farm as possible.

A photograph of the cows on the Wrendale farm


Beavers on the Wrendale farm

In late 2023, Hannah and Jack welcomed beavers to their rewilded farm in Lincolnshire, marking their return after 400 years of extinction. Click here to explore their progress.

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