A HERD of cattle is being released onto the Ronkswood Hill Meadows to help preserve grassland and wildflowers.

The 17-strong hand-reared cows will have free reign over the site as part of the 10th annual conservation exercise by Worcester City Council from Thursday, May 1.

Releasing the animals onto the city site is a cost-effective way of keeping the grass short enough to allow wildflowers, like black knapweed, cowslips and birdsfoot trefoil, to flourish, and will also encourage butterflies to visit the meadows and the natural initiative will allow improvements to the soil environment without additives.

Warwick Neale, community engagement officer at the council, said the cattle will stay on city site for six months.

"This is the 10th year in succession we have brought cattle to this city site. We introduce the cattle for around six months in a bid to regain some of the traditional benefits of natural stewardship," he said.

The city council will put up signs on Newtown Road and Tolladine Road to warn walkers and dog-owners to take a little extra care and keep dogs on leads or under close control when cattle are nearby.

Mr Neale added: “The sudden re-appearance of cattle may take a few people by surprise but the animals will probably be too busy chewing the cud to take notice of any passers-by.”