Cows keep invasive plants at bay at Cotswold Water Park

Cows at Cotswold Water Park
Image caption The herd of cattle will graze on small willow plants which threaten to take over the site

Cows have been introduced to a Wiltshire nature reserve in order to keep plants at bay.

The 18 Dexter rare breed cattle are grazing at Cotswold Water Park's Waterhay Reed Bed at the Cleveland Lakes Reserve near Ashton Keynes.

Once a sand and gravel quarry and used as silt settling ponds, the site is now abundant in reed and bulrush.

The cows will graze on small willow plants which left unchecked could turn the area into thick scrubland.

Gareth Harris, of the Cotswold Water Park Trust, said the estates team and volunteer rangers undertake extensive management of the site each winter, reducing the area of willow and promoting an increasing area of reed bed.

He said: "Cattle will supplement these works by grazing on young willow within the reed bed, which in turn will encourage a greater diversity of aquatic plants and insects.

"Birds, foraging bats and amphibians will be some of the species benefiting from this management."

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