Nature Ramble

Our ramble today looks at a rare beast in England.

A fact that not many are aware of, England has wild cattle.

Chillingham wild cattle: Surviving another winter

Chillingham wild cattle breed throughout the year

Richard Marsh is prepared for winter snows and his charges, a herd of 100 rare Chillingham wild cattle, are ready too.

They have been weathering winters in the 360 acre Chillingham Castle park in Northumberland since first being enclosed in about 1240.

“These wild cattle are unique and rarer than the Siberian tiger,” Mr Marsh said.

“No human hand touches them and they receive no veterinary care either.”

But there are times when human intervention is required. This winter, supplementary feeding has already started.

“By this time of year they’ve flattened the grass to the ground and any grass there is still growing will have no goodness – it’ll all have gone into the root for next year,” Mr Marsh said.

Bulls will fight for the right to breed

“Surrounded with a fence means they cannot wander off and find food, so we have to keep them going, probably through to about March, with a couple of round bales of hay a day.”

He said that nobody would be able to get close enough to touch them – they simply would not allow you to.

“If humans were to handle them, they would change the way in which they smell. This would lead to any such beast being rejected by the herd and they’d kill them,” he said.

They breed throughout the year and calves are often born in the deep snows. Mr Marsh said if they got wet and cold with snow straight away, they could get pneumonia and die.

“But, they are tough little things… they really are,” he insisted.

“Their coats have started to ruffle up a little bit – they grow a slightly rougher, longer winter coat in readiness, but the cattle will still live out in the open – their home is the forest.

Read more

Read more

aurochs

Aurochs survived in Europe until 1627

According to earlier publicity material produced by the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association, Chillingham Cattle bear some similarities to the extinct ancestral species Aurochs, Bos primigenius primigenius. – Wikipedia

In 1920, the Heck brothers, who were German biologists, attempted to recreate aurochs. The resulting cattle are known as Heck cattle or Reconstructed Aurochs.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. You are a treasure trove of knowledge. Never realised this animal existed.

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