Highland cattle grazing on Whitwell Common

Two Highland cattle are now grazing on Whitwell Common, near Reepham, in a bid to improve the habitat, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that supports a range of rare orchids and other plants.

Excitement mounted as onlookers gathered to see the arrival of the animals on Thursday 10 August– the first animals to graze the Common for more than 50 years.
This was the moment when years of planning came to fruition of an idea first mooted by Tony Ivins, a former chairman of the trustees of Whitwell Common, some 30 years ago.
Thanks to the efforts of present chairman Lin Garland, treasurer Mike Eastwood and Norfolk County Council ecologist Ed Stocker, a Biffa Award grant of £25,000 has made it possible to open up the drainage ditches, provide culverts for the cattle to cross and fencing to contain them.
The award has also allowed the trustees to restore the three ponds on the site, improving their biodiversity.
The assembled onlookers included Whitwell Common trustees, former chairman Anthony Footitt, Peter Lambley, who was involved in much of the earlier renovation of the Common, representatives of Reepham Town Council and local residents who frequent the Common.
Upon release from the pen, the two handsome beasts wandered off, oblivious to all the fuss. They immediately started to do their job – tackling the vegetation and trimming the trees. They will be regularly checked for health and welfare, but an emergency phone number is on display on the Common should any problems occur.
All parts of the walk are accessible and the cattle are used to people. However, the trustees ask that dogs are kept on leads to prevent any stress to the cattle.
The grazing area will be carefully monitored and, depending on rainfall, it is hoped the animals can stay on the Common until October.
Daphne Ludgate
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