New calves will join conservation herd
TWO new calves have started preparing to join La Societe Guernesiaise’s conservation herd.
Both were born on Valentine’s Day and have come from Cleveland Farm at Perelle.
This is the herd’s seventh year and each year two new animals are taken on to replace the two steers that are sent to slaughter. The herd is used to more naturally manage land.
Herd manager Julia Henney said the animals were settling in well.
‘When they were first moved, on the first night, they were quite timid,’ she said.
‘But the next morning they were jumping out of their hut. One of them is quite timid and does not like too much human interaction, so we will be working on that.’
The animals are again being kept on a field close to the Grammar School and a team of volunteers is helping care for them.
Luca Gaudion, 13, is one of the helpers, something he has been doing for four years.
‘One of them is quite shy, but they are both doing really well,’ he said.
‘We are trying to pet the shy one and be friendly with him.’
The rest of the herd is currently in a field close to L’Ancresse. The herd started with two long-term members, Charles and David, named after the late Societe president.
However earlier this year Charles died unexpectedly. He was only six. It is expected the steers will live to at least 15.
It was found that Charles had died from a condition which he had had since birth, and he had not suffered and was in good health until the end.
‘The morning he died, David was really upset,’ Miss Henney said.
‘When Charles was taken away, David was beside himself, running up to Charles and nudging him. He was really upset a few weeks afterwards.’
Whenever there is a change in the herd, there is always a period of jostling. One of the steers had been due to go to slaughter as there is a rolling programme for the herd, which usually has about eight animals. It was decided that steer would be kept on and auditioned as a new permanent member.
‘They have a complex social structure,’ Miss Henney said.
‘They have their friends and those they don’t like. And when they lose a friend, they grieve.’
The herd has now settled down again.
The new calves will join them in the autumn.
The adult steers are due to move to their summer grazing grounds at the end of the month.
Miss Henney said that did involve a gathering of volunteers and they would take into account how safe that was with the current coronavirus restrictions.
She did note that they usually ended with cow mess on their hands, which would discourage them from touching their faces and encourage them to wash their hands.