A SMALL herd of Highland cattle will be returning to the Old Hills, Callow End, as part of a land management project.

Over the last three years, a local farmer has worked with the Malvern Hills Trust, formerly the Conservators, to reintroduce a small herd of highland cattle to graze this landscape.

Highland cattle are a rare breed suited to the rough pasture at the Old Hills. By grazing the anthill-filled grassland, they benefit species such as the green woodpecker whose main food source is ants.

Cow pats are also an important resource for invertebrates which provide food for mammals, such as bats, further up the food chain.

Mark Roberts of the trust said: "By maintaining the grassland using natural and traditional methods, we are working to preserve habitats, maintain landscape character, open up views and keep the common accessible for people to enjoy."

The Old Hills were once grazed all year round by local farmers. The land is still registered as common land which means that at any time, commoners with grazing rights can put their livestock up on the Old Hills.

When the last cattle and sheep left the Old Hills, as grazing became uneconomical and the roads got busier, the trees and scrub started to encroach the grassland and these open areas were lost.

The Trust is asking walkers keep their dogs under close control at all times when walking on the Old Hills and to keep them on a lead near livestock.

Livestock worrying, including chasing, is a criminal offence and is distressing for all involved. Keeping a dog on a lead can stop such attacks from happening.

The cattle will be on the Old Hills within a temporary electric fenced enclosure during October and November. They will then be taken away and will return again in 2018.