01 Jun 2017
It's National Volunteers' Week, a celebration of the contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK. To mark the week Colin Kidner, a volunteer cattle looker at Mill Meadows shares his experiences. Place Services' Legacy Grazing provides conservation grazing to some of the county's finest wildlife sites using a herd of native Red Poll cattle.
"I walk my dog twice a day in Mill Meadows and when Chris, the Countryside Ranger, asked for volunteers I put my hand up.
"The volunteers had half a day's training with the Red Poll Cattle Society which included the characteristics of Red Poll, daily grazing checks and signs of ill health.
"This is the third year I've been involved. The work involves checking that the cattle are all there, look healthy, appear to be grazing normally and their water trough is clean and full. This is quite easy once they have settled down after being unloaded. The settling down takes about three to four days.
"One also has to be aware that some dog owners are not very careful about keeping their dogs under control so sometimes a quiet word is needed.
"The school children show an interest in the cattle when they first arrive so I try to be around in the background at 3pm as they are going home to act as 'lookout'. Last year this was very useful because some boys were spotted throwing sticks at the cattle while they were waiting at a bus stop. The boys concerned were identified and dealt with by the school.
"As a volunteer one has a duty day, one day a week, to check the cattle. I grew up with cattle in Kenya so this cattle watching takes me back to my youth!."
To find out more about Legacy Grazing or to register an interest in volunteering visit our website.