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30 Jul 2018

Wooly mowers to manage meadow

 

One of 19 Jacob sheep introduced onto the grazing marsh habitat this summer.

One of 19 Jacob sheep introduced onto the grazing marsh habitat this summer. Pic: Paul Stevens

Nineteen Jacob sheep were introduced into the wet grassland habitat to help manage the area on Tues 24 July.

Reserve Manager Paul Stevens said, “These sheep will help keep vegetation in check in the summer months. Birds and wildlife aren’t bothered by the livestock. The sheep dung will attract more insects for birds to eat and provide nutrition for invertebrates in the soil.”

This grazing marsh habitat hasn’t had a hoof on it for more than fifty years. Letting sheep loose here in the summer months reflects the historical, sustainable way the floodplain along the Arun River was used by farmers. The black and white spotted Jacob sheep are a heritage breed that can grow four horns. They are one of the oldest species of sheep in the world, thought to originate in Spain.

When the grassland becomes very wet in autumn the sheep will be moved onto the new grassland and chalk bank habitat created in 2017 with grant from the Viridor Credits Environmental Company the Landfill Communities Fund.