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Conservation herd manager moving on to pastures new

News | Published:

THE steers gallop over to Julia Henney when she calls them from the other side of the field, situated near Beaucette Marina.

Come rain, as it was yesterday, or shine, Julie Henney has been responsible for the conservation herd for six years, but the search is on for her replacement. (Picture by Ben Fiore, 27189553)

It is early on Sunday morning and it is tipping it down with rain, but this a labour of love and the steers need their water topping up.

After six years as manager of La Societe Guernesiaise’s conservation herd, Ms Henney is hanging up her galoshes and wants someone else to take over.

‘It is a big responsibility but also it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It’s absolutely fantastic and when you’re stood on one of the coastal grasses in the middle of the summer and the steers are happily grazing, and bringing them back to the common as well, it’s the most incredible feeling in the world.’

The herd was established in 2014 and now consists of eight steers.

It is a means of managing the island’s important nature reserves and coastal grasslands, following habitat surveys which revealed a big loss in species-rich grassland.

Their grazing has encouraged the spread of rare flowers such as Deptford pink and musk thistle, rare butterflies such as the brown argus, and supported populations of bee orchids and pyramidal orchids.

The herd manager is a voluntary role and the workload varies throughout the year, but averages roughly 10 to 12 hours a week, so it would suit someone who works part-time or has flexible hours, and the position could be done as a job share.

The ideal candidate will have experience of working with large animals and a practical attitude.

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Ms Henney said although it is an unpaid position, it offers a rich dose of wild treasures and nature’s beauty.

‘It’s a lot of work, I’m here this morning topping up the water, I was here yesterday giving them a new bale, it varies throughout the year and we have a team of around 15 to 20 volunteers who help with the project, so it’s certainly not just the manager.

‘But at the end of the day one person has to be responsible, if it’s Christmas morning and it’s a blizzard and they need new food, the buck has to stop with someone.

‘They will be the registered keeper of the animals so ultimately the welfare requirements falls on their shoulders.

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‘If you speak to any farmer they’ll tell you it’s a lifestyle, it’s not a job, so if someone is able to take over management of the herd you’re essentially going to look after a herd of cattle, but without the financial burden.’

Moving to a full-time job means Ms Henney no longer has enough time to dedicate to the herd, but she knows she will still come and say hello to her animal friends and let them munch on a few treats.

  • For further information or to express an interest in this role, email Ms Henney at conservationherd@societe.org.gg. Applications need to be received before the end of this month.
Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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