A new-born highland calf at Weetslade Country Park near Cramlington has been causing quite a stir amongst staff at Northumberland Wildlife Trust.
For ‘wee’ Slade is the first calf ever to be born at the Park which is owned by The Land Trust and managed by Northumberland Wildlife Trust; he is even more unusual as he is black in colour instead of the usual brown.
Dan Chapman, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Estates Officer with responsibility for the upkeep of the, Park said: “We are absolutely thrilled with our furry new arrival, although his appearance did come as a bit of a surprise; even though we knew one of our cows was ‘expecting’, the first we knew of Slade was when one of our volunteers found him sat behind his mum one morning.”
Slade is the latest addition to the Kipperlynn Fold which is part of the Trust’s Flexigraze conservation project; he will stay with his mother Leannan at Weetslade for the next couple of weeks before heading off with her to a new grazing site in the region.
Noted for their long horns and thick wavy coats, the animals are proving extremely beneficial for the site at Weetslade Country Park as they reinstate a natural system of grazing-based land management and attract even more visitors.
Dan continued: “Highland cattle are a particularly hardy breed, thriving in areas where no other cattle are able to due to poor forage, high annual rainfall or bitter winds. They are majestic creatures with a long and distinguished ancestry who graze very efficiently and calve outdoors.”
Although no longer conventionally economical in terms of beef and milk production, the cattle are ideal for natural land conservation at sites such as Weetslade. The cattle provide a very cost-effective and natural way of managing and maintaining the land.
They graze in the ecologically sensitive areas of park and their presence deters dogs and indeed people from inadvertently disturbing delicate species such as ground nest birds; the cattle also naturally distribute seeds as they move, creating wildflower meadows that are popular attractions to visitors. They’re also helping to cut costs as their grazing keeps the grass and foliage to a more manageable level.
Find out more about Northumberland wildlife and wildlife watching.