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Cattle to graze on banks of River Mersey

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Longhorn Cattle

Long-Horned cattle will return to the banks of the River Mersey in March as the Forestry Commission continue to improve the environment at Upper Moss Side.

The cattle will graze the grass and vegetation to different lengths, creating a more natural environment that will benefit the diverse range of birds in the area.

Duncan MacNaughton, forest ranger for the area, said:

"The cattle are more effective than if we were to use a lawnmower. They will create different lengths of grasses that will encourage the birdlife to thrive in the area.”

Fencing has been put up around the marshland so that the large animals do not roam too far when they are introduced in March. Once they move onto the land, which is made up of various sediments from the River Mersey, they will graze the grass.

Some areas will be grazed shorter than others creating habitats for different species of insects and molluscs, which in turn offer food for birds such as lapwings, redshanks and skylarks.

Shorter areas of grass will make it easier for barn and short-eared owls to spot their prey on the Site of Interest for Nature Conservation. The cows’ dung will also attract flies and other insects, which will provide food for small birds such as wagtails.

Cattle were first introduced to the area by the monks from Norton Priory in the 1100s, but have been absent for several years now.

Duncan said:

“We are introducing the long-horned cattle because they are quite hardy and traditional.  The monks had cattle for food and milk, but for us they are natural way to improve the environment.”



  1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.  Further information can be found at

  2. At the end of last year, otter footprints were spotted on the banks of the River Mersey for the first time in years showing signs of improvement to the environment.

Media Contact: Andrew Moores on 01606 888111 or Richard Topley, of the Forestry Commission, on 01606 324909.