Have you Herd? Grazing cattle return to Sefton's coast

14 December 2023 3min read

Each winter, the Council’s Green Sefton service brings grazing animals onto the Local Nature Reserves to help control vegetation growth.

This, in turn, encourages diverse plant species to grow and Sefton’s rare dune specialists such as Natterjack Toads, Sand Lizards and Northern Tiger Beetles to thrive.

Herdwick sheep and English Longhorn cattle from Lancashire Wildlife Trust have been moved on to the reserve at Ainsdale and Birkdale Local Nature Reserves. The animals will graze the reserves until spring 2024.

Sign reminding beach visitors of need to keep dogs on leads, to close gates and to be mindful of the cattle and sheep during the grazing period.

Green Sefton’s Principal Coastal Countryside Officer, Gordon White said: “Each winter, we bring grazing animals onto the Local Nature Reserves to help control scrub expansion and vegetation growth.

“Our team cares for these animals every day and have great concern for their welfare and wellbeing.

“By helping control the growth of vegetation, grazing encourages diverse plant species to grow and provide the right conditions for our rare dune specialists such as natterjack toads, sand lizards and northern tiger beetles to thrive.”

He continued: “We have posted signs at the Reserve’s major entrance points to inform people of the presence of the cattle.

“They are docile animals that are used to seeing people, but we do suggest that if people do come across the cattle, they should turn and walk another way to avoid disturbing or spooking them.

“I would ask dog owners to put their pets on a lead and ensure they are under control just as they would in any farmers field where cows or sheep are present.

“This season we are experimenting with an online monitoring system, which helps us and visitors to the reserves to track the animals’ locations within the enclosures. There is a QR code on the posters at the reserve entrances – people can scan the code to see a map of the reserve that should show where the cattle are.”

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Conservation grazing is a fantastic, cost-effective and natural way to protect our dune systems and it is great to see the animals making a return to our reserves again this winter.”

“Sefton’s coastline is one of Britain’s most important areas for nature conservation and has the highest level of protection under UK law as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its flora and fauna.

“This on-going initiative really helps to enhance these important coastal ecological systems and also ensures that we are playing our part in mitigating the impact of climate change on our coast.

“And it gives the sheep and cattle a great winter break on the fantastic Sefton coastline.”

Dog walkers

Green Sefton is urging everyone to act responsibly if they visit the reserve to catch a glimpse of the special winter visitors. Dog walkers are reminded that pets should be kept on a lead and under close control within fenced grazing areas, following the Countryside Code, which can be found on the Government website: Countryside Code | Gov.uk

For more advice, tips and updates from the Green Sefton service this winter, people are urged to follow them on social media:

Facebook: greensefton
Instagram: @greensefton
Twitter: @GreenSefton_

View all news

To stay up to date on news and events in Sefton by subscribing to the My Sefton e-news bulletin. When signing up simply choose ‘All news, events and updates’.

Sign up
Recite Me Button