Moo-ving back home: British cows reintroduced to Hainault Forest Country Park

PUBLISHED: 13:02 15 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:19 15 February 2017

Shorthorn cattle grazing over Hainault Forest. Picture Ken Mears.

Shorthorn cattle grazing over Hainault Forest. Picture Ken Mears.


Teaming with birds, deer and critters of the crawling kind, Hainault Forest Country Park could never be described as dull.

Big brown and bovine. Cows have returned to the forest. Picture Ken MearsBig brown and bovine. Cows have returned to the forest. Picture Ken Mears

But the wildlife paradise is about to get even busier as 18 British cows will soon call the woodland off Romford Road, Hainault, home.

Beef short horns have been introduced to the environment in a bid to go back to traditional styles of farming.

Hollie Anderson of the Woodland Trust said the cows help maintain the habitat which is listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interset (SSSI).

“The cattle are at the site to graze on the land,” she added.

“A lot of Hainault Forest used to be woodland pasture, which was essentially an area of land that was used by farmers as they drove their cattle up to London, before cars.

“It was great for fattening them up before being sold at market but also as the cattle graze on certain species, it encourages other plants such as wildflowers to grow.

“This attracts insects and is good for birdlife.”

By introducing grazing cows and combining this with other techniques such as pollarding, the Woodland Trust are hoping to re–establish woodland pastures and the benefits it provides for wildlife.

Over the next three months the cattles’ roaming area will be extended to allow the bovines to “wander a little further”.

The cows help the land better than any maintenance worker as they “keep the coarse vegetation down and browse the lower branches of trees”.

“The cows are quite big,”added Hollie

“But they are tame and you shouldn’t be scared of them.

“Just be mindful and respectful, keeping dogs under control and you can explore the forest as normal.”

All of the enclosures have kissing gates providing foot access for people along existing paths. For more information visit

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