The livestock on the reserve play a huge part in the management of the grasslands to create the suitable habitats that so much of our wildlife thrives on. From butterflies, bees and other insects to small and large mammals and birds, all rely on the diverse range of flora as well as sward (vegetation) structure.
Our herd of 15 Dexter cattle keep us busy with regular routine checks and feeding, annual TB tests, moving from one field to another at various times of the year depending on the grassland objective and anything else they might spring on us such as needing a visit from the vet or needing a replacement ear tag. As if that didn’t keep us busy enough, it was decided that they were well over due a pedicure! None of our cattle have ever needed their feet trimming before but some of their feet had grown long, uneven toes and were developing cracks. As a result of this, the girls were starting to feel a little foot sore.
So, early one May morning the man for the job arrived, fully equipped with a mobile cattle handling facility to ensure the process was as safe and as stress free for the cattle (and us!) as possible.
The cows, and volunteers, were ready and waiting. The girls were quietly encouraged into the pen, where they then walked onto the trailer and into the ‘cattle crush’. The cattle crush basically is the part of the pen that holds the cows safely and securely for whatever the treatment might be, in this case, foot trimming.
Once the cow was secured in the crush, she was given a cushion to rest her head on and a sling under her tummy to support her when a foot was lifted to be trimmed. And then…out came the angle grinder!
Fitted with a special grinding disk, this enabled Michael to file around the edge of the foot, in between the toes and then finally to round off the toes. After a long day, the cows were returned to their various fields and after a few days were all much happier on their feet.I am sure I even saw one doing a cartwheel…
By Fran Payne, Assistant Reserve Officer