Why are cows at Downhill Demesne?
Walking around Downhill Demesne, you may notice that you are sharing the estate with our attractive black Aberdeen Angus cattle. This special breed of cattle are actually very important members of the team. Hardy to the Irish weather, they have been selected in partnership with our local tenant farmer to restore the historic grasslands. The presence of the cattle provide the perfect conditions for wildflowers to flourish, creating a richer landscape for you to explore and enjoy.
Why is conservation grazing needed?
These cattle are a tried and tested method for conservation grazing of species rich meadow grassland. The National Trust have introduced similar grazing cattle at other north coast sites including White Park Bay and Portstewart Strand with stunning results. By reducing the sward height of rank grasses and light trampling, the cattle help with disturbing the seed bank which allows germination sites for wildflowers. This in turn allows butterflies, moths and bees to feed on nectar sources.
Where to spot the results?
The success of introducing cattle to Downhill Demesne is already showing results. Every season we are noticing an increase in the display of wildflowers. Keep an eye out for a tall purple flower called Devils Bit Scabious which is just one of the newly established wildflowers which are creating a niche habitat for a wide array of wildlife. It is hoped that we can continue to enhance the meadow grasslands at Downhill, with an orchid rich habitat, which can be achieved successfully by allowing the cattle to enjoy an extended break at Downhill Demesne.
How can we all help?
To manage the cattle, we have set up electrified grazing paddocks. The electric charge is low voltage, and simply acts as a warning to the cattle not to leave their temporary paddock. You are playing an important part in this conversation grazing scheme too. By following our signage and navigating around these areas on site, you are helping to allow this process to happen. Keeping your dogs on leads so as not to disturb the cattle is also vital to the conservation work.