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Cattle to be used to manage Seaford Head Nature Reserve

Two British Whites and a British Black cow are at Seaford Head Local Nature Reserve.

Two British Whites and a British Black cow are at Seaford Head Local Nature Reserve.

Specially chosen breeds of cattle will be the next tool in the battle to manage Seaford Head Nature Reserve.

Sussex Wildlife Trust selected two British Whites and a British Black to graze the beauty spot and control the coarser grasses and scrub.

While the cattle were described as relatively docile, dog owners are being advised to keep their pets on leads or under control when near the cattle.

A spokesperson for Sussex Wildlife Trust and Seaford Town Council said: “These cattle are a particularly good breed for conservation grazing which will help control the coarser grasses and scrub and contribute to improving this area of chalk grassland.

“The cattle will be grazing on the reserve for around two months, being checked on daily and with access to water.

“The cattle are used to being on Sussex Wildlife Trust land and are relatively docile.

“Dog owners however should keep their dogs under close control or on a lead.”

The three cattle moved on to the nature reserve on Thursday February 6 as part of the management plan that was commissioned by Seaford Head Local Nature Reserve Committee to provide a guide on the best possible management for the nature reserve from 2013 to 2017.

The site is degrading due to overgrazing in some areas and a lack of grazing in other areas.

Sussex Wildlife Trust and Seaford Town Council said if dog walkers were approached aggressively by cattle they should let their dog off the lead so the cattle lose interest in them. There is electric fencing around the area with three access gates.

Sussex Wildlife Trust is appealing for people to make sure the gates are kept closed.

At the beginning of 2013 Sussex Wildlife Trust took over the management of the 83 hectare site for Seaford Town Council.

Coordinating the conservation work at Seaford Head is the trust’s assistant reserves officer Sarah Quantrill.

Seaford Head Nature Reserve is part of the South Downs National Park.

The cliffs are a home to Fulmars and Kittiwakes and a habitat for specialised plants and insects.

As the unprotected cliffs erode the rock falls on to the wave cut platform made up of flint and chalk layers that have eroded to form rockpools.

These contain a fascinating array of wildlife, such as burrowing molluscs called piddocks and strawberry sea anenomes.

The vegetated shingle bank is a natural feature that has been further developed as a flood defence either side of the river Cuckmere.

The shingle has been colonised by plants like the yellow horned poppy which can withstand the harsh salty environment.

There are information signs at the three access points for the grazing area, including the contact number for the grazier in an emergency, 07884 496807. Anyone wanting more information on the nature reserve or with an interest in joining one of the voluntary groups that currently help care for the reserve, contact Seaford Town Council on 01323 894870 or admin@seafordtowncouncil.gov.uk, or Sarah Quantrill on 01273 492630.

 

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