35 lucky lambs have joined the reserves team at Barton Meadows, where they will help to create a flourishing haven for wildlife. The lambs at Barton Meadows were born between March and April earlier in the year at Hockley Meadows Farm, and we are delighted to see them settling into their new home.
This nature reserve was created back in 2017 during the planning stage of the Kings Barton housing development. Securing this land represented a significant achievement for the Trust, as it allowed us to create new habitats for wildlife displaced by the development. Since the site came into our care we have been working to restore the arable fields to rich wildflower meadows, and the addition of sheep is a significant milestone.
The lambs were put on the meadows following the hay cut in July as part of a conservation technique called ‘aftermath grazing’; allowing livestock to graze the land prevents excess nutrients building up in the soil, which stops aggressive plants out-competing more delicate species.
The sheep will also help to create diversity in grass sward height. When livestock graze freely they select different plants, and even different parts of the plant, to nibble or browse. Over time, this selective eating forms a varied structure within the habitat, which helps to create the right conditions for a wide range of insects, birds, reptiles, mammals and plants. At Barton Meadows, we hope to see plants such as oxeye daisy, meadow buttercup and common knapweed benefit from our new grazing regime.