Our Osthalde in Ahlen (Westphalia) was visited by animals in August: around 200 sheep and goats roamed the slag heap for three weeks, keeping the herbaceous vegetation short and nibbling on the odd shrub. In this way, the animal landscape keepers traditionally create an open to semi-open and particularly diverse landscape – ideal for promoting the habitat and species diversity of the Osthalde.
On their way from the foot of the Osthalde to the summit, the herd stopped at various intermediate stations. The HeimatERBE ecologists recorded the 6 hectares of meadows and clearings as part of the comprehensive biotope mapping in 2021 and classified them as worthy of preservation. They are heavily impoverished after a long period of fallowing, but with appropriate care they provide a contrast to the extensively wooded areas of the Osthalde. Areas with a meadow or pasture-like character and a large plant diversity support a variety of insects, which are food for other animal species, such as birds, bats and small mammals.
Due to the special location on the eastern slope, only biological (rather than mechanical) landscape management can be considered for preservation and extensive maintenance. For the mostly rather meager and with goldenrod, land riding grass, blackberries or in places defensible shrubs covered areas, robust animal breeds and with the difficult herding conditions also a reliable shepherd is needed.
Together with a shepherd specialized in landscape management, we agreed on a grazing concept and gathered all kinds of experience in this first grazing round, which will help us to optimize the coming grazing in the summer of 2023 and to support the shepherd in the best possible way.
Until then, a hearty Good-Bye and ‘good mow’!
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