Here is the moos: Farthing Downs calves are growing up fast

Autumn is a time of change for the cattle on Farthing Downs

Looking for some peace and quiet? You may want to give Farthing Downs a wide berth for a few days.

City Commons, the custodians of much of the downland around the south of the borough, felt the need to explain the loud noises coming from the livestock on Farthing Downs this week, where they keep a herd of rare Sussex cattle to help maintain the bio-diversity of the open space.

The noise has been the loud moo-ing from calves, separated from their mothers for the first time.

The City Commons rangers explain: “The calves on Farthing Downs have been separated from the cows so that they can be weaned. The calves are now grazing Kenley Common on fresh grass which will provide good pre-winter feed and the cows will remain on Farthing Downs until December.

“This will also give the cows on Farthing Downs time to feed and prepare for winter in the barn, where they will be reunited with the calves.

“For a couple of days the calves will be noisy calling for their mothers. This should last a few days and the rangers will be monitoring them to see how they are getting on.

The grazing livestock – sheep and goats are used elsewhere in Happy Valley – help maintain the ecology of Farthing Downs

“The cows are fantastic grazers and manage the grassland habitats across the four sites which make up the South London Downs National Nature Reserve.

“As grazers for conservation, the cows are not bred purely for the production of meat and are not dairy cows – they are hugely important to maintaining the Commons as fantastic spaces for nature and people.

“This keeps one foot (or hoof) in touch with the local heritage on sites which have been grazed for thousands of years, and the other firmly in the present with conserving wildlife for future generations.

“Multiple animals benefit from the micro-habitats they create through grazing including nationally rare beetles, ants, butterflies, threatened birds such as the skylark and some of the fungi you can see at the moment.”

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