09:00AM, Thursday 13 September 2012
Cows will be free to graze across an ancient monument in Burnham Beeches for the first time in 100 years - and electric 'shock' collars will stop them straying.
Staff at Hartley Court Moat, which lies in the north west of the national reserve, are replacing traditional wooden fences with new, less visible technology to make the woodland more accessible to walkers.
Andrew Barnard, superintendent of the reserve, said: "Grazing animals were brought back to the Beeches in 1992 but traditional fences have had to be used to keep them in.
"Over the years we have enlarged the paddocks and ensured that gates provide access but we have still been restricted to a small area of the site."
He added cows will now be able to graze right to the edges of the boundary.
The system involves using a buried cable, which encircles the area forming a paddock, and collars fitted with radio receivers worn by the cows.
A radio signal is transmitted through the cable and if the cow gets too close, the collar will make a loud warning sound.
If the cow keeps wandering to the paddock boundary a small electric shock, which Andrew said is similar to that given by an electric fence, will be emitted from the collar.
He added: "Livestock are a huge part of the history of Burnham Beeches having helped to create the internationally important landscape and wildlife habitats that we find today.
"They provide the best method for managing the wood pasture by encouraging bio-diversity."
Cows were due to be released into the moat, which is one of three ancient monuments found in the Site of Special Scientific Interest, yesterday.
The moat is the remains of an ancient farmstead and was built between 1250 and 1350.
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