Walking and cattle on Divis and the Black Mountain

Cattle graze Divis and the Black Mountain

Grazing cattle plays an important role in maintaining the diverse range of wildlife, flora and fauna that thrives on Divis and the Black Mountain. The cattle are a chosen for their docile nature but for your safety, please follow this advice when walking with your dog on the mountain.

Divis and the Black Mountain is a mosaic of different habitats. The area boasts blanket bog, wet and dry heath and grassland with a diverse range of grasses, wild flowers and fungi. This is maintained by grazing cattle. The habitats support several species such as Skylarks and possibly the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

Without the grazing, some of the areas of the mountain would begin to revert to scrub and some species could be lost.

We work closely with our local tenant farmers who have many years of experience managing cattle on the mountain. We have selected breeds which are traditionally more docile. During the most sensitive times of year for cattle – breeding and rearing season - we keep the cattle in dedicated enclosures away from public trails.

The biggest potential danger on the mountain stems from contact between cattle and dogs. Cattle will become agitated and possibly aggressive if they perceive a threat to their young. To mitigate against this, dogs should be kept on leads. If cattle do become aggressive towards walkers with dogs, the dog should be let off the lead to reduce the danger to its owner.

Keeping safe around cattle on Divis and the Black Mountain:

  • Avoid getting between cows and their calves
  • Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you
  • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd
  • Don’t hang onto your dog if you are threatened by cattle - let it go as the cattle will chase the dog and not you
  • Don’t put yourself at risk by walking close to cattle
  • Don’t panic or run – most cattle will stop before they reach you; if they follow just walk on quietly
  • Keep us informed of any problems you experience