So if you watched carefully on BBC’s Countryfile on Sunday 23rd August you may have caught sight of our Belties on the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Petos Marsh at Carlton near Lowestoft. The belties do alot of important conservation grazing for the Trust at both Oulton and Carlton marshes as well as the Camps Heath Nature Reserve.
The Belties wrap their tongues around vegetation and pull it up in tufts, which creates an uneven sward in terms of length and a tussocky finish. They are good at pushing their way through scrub and creating open areas, in addition to eating longer and coarser grasses, reeds and willow. The low-intensity grazing provided by the cattle are promoting a shift from reed/scrub to grass and herbs, with plants such as wild mint, ragged robin, vetches and rare orchids flourishing on these wetland areas. The dung also provides habitat for invertebrates which results in an increase in butterflies and beetles and a richer habitat for flora and fauna.
April saw the arrival of the first of our 2020 beltie calves, the weather has been kind and they are enjoying sunning themselves down on Burgh Marshes with their Mum’s. All our calves get names and 2020 they all start with a “T” – so here we have Ted, Captain Tom and Twiglet.
We had an amazing time up at the Belted Galloway National Show at the Westmorland County Show in the Lake District this week. It was a lovely show despite the weather and long old haul up from Norfolk and so unexpectedly worthwhile.
Our dun beltie bull Waveney Harnser won his class, Champion bull class and was Best of Breed Champ! (image above courtesy of the Farmers Guardian). As the National Show is held every two years to we get to keep his fine Mochrum Perpetual Challenge Trophy for two years. Harnser’s dun half sister Waveney Coshie came second in her class and the two of them third in the pairs ….her young bull calf Waveney Scooby came last in his class and had a fine old time escaping the cattle lines overnight and checking out the other competitors!
We have had a successful season showing the belties with our dun bull Waveney Harnser taking reserve male and reserve best of breed at the Royal Norfolk, and then going one better at the Great Yorkshire winning his class and male champion. Our young red beltie heifer also did well at the Norfolk winning her class and reserve female champion and youngster Waveney Tiger came third in her first outing at the Norfolk.
So this spring some of our yearling beltie gang are off to earn their keep as Conservation Grazers on the Suffolk Wildlife Trust sites at Oulton Marshes. Their task is to graze various wet nature reserve sites breaking up the sward to encourage diversity – unlike their commercial cousins belties do well on this kind of marginal wet grazing and as an added bonus their cowpats alone will support hundreds of different insects which in turn will provide food for birds and bats on the sites.
Part of their role will involve herding them along various trackways and byeways between sites and for this purpose we have sent halter trained bottle fed steer “Buster” to lead his little army from site to site. The first move was successfully completed last week. So if you live in Oulton look out for the “oreo cows” on the Camps Heath and Oulton Fen sites!
So this week we had a lovely (but blustery!) visit down at Carr Farm from fellow cattle farmer, designer and all round top lady Izzy Rainey – she wanted to feature the Belties in her “Over the Farm Gate” Blog….
It’s funny that whenever we get visitors wanting to photograph us with the belties that I always look such a mess …….luckily the belties make up for my shortcomings!😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣
Keep an eye on Izzi’s next blog when she will be drawing some of our belties who may feature in her 2019 designs….we will keep you posted!
Earlier in the year we were asked if we would like to participate in a Belted Galloway herd Competition for the Midlands Region – with the winner going through to a National Competition. It was a great experience lots of useful feedback on all our animals from an experienced Scottish judge.
At the regional group dinner in Derby on Friday 5th October the results were announced and we were thrilled to learn that our herd was overall regional runner up, as an added bonus our homebred Bull Waveney Harnser was joint runner up in the bull class and our homebred heifer Waveney Coshie was overall female runner up too!