We’re not taking the Mickey: meet Minnie the calf - New member of the herd with classic Disney markings

Minnie the calf

Minnie the calf

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It doesn’t take a genius to work out why this calf has been nicknamed Minnie.

Her distinctive white forehead would normally be unusual enough, but her black, ‘mouse’ silhouette really makes her stand out from the herd.

Far from making her look Goofy, the Disney-esque marking is making her a firm favourite with visitors to the WWT Welney Wetland Centre, near Wisbech.

Minnie, her mother and the rest of their herd have an important role during the summer months as wetland managers; with duties include munching the grasses, poaching mud at the water’s edge, attracting insects for birds spreading seeds by fertilizing the land.

Managing wet grasslands with livestock has happened on the Ouse Washes for over 400 years and is something which cannot be replicated artificially.

Today up to 600 cows, calves and bulls make the wetlands at WWT Welney an internationally important habitat some of the rarest species of bird, insect and plant life.

Minnie and her herd

Minnie and her herd

Reserve warden Louise Clewley said: “The cows do a fantastic job, creating a mosaic of grasses that provide the ideal habitat for a wide variety of birds.

“Species like the lapwing and the rare black-tailed godwit prefer short grass so that they can easily spot predators; whereas snipe and redshank rely on their camouflage and so prefer tussocks of longer grass.

“This year has been an awesome year for breeding birds on the reserve and the cattle are getting it in great shape’

“One of my favourite things is digging around in cow poo, the pats provide a great habitat for lots of amazing insects which become a food source for birds and bats’.

Minnie the calf

Minnie the calf

Local farmer Chris Jackson said: “This local grazing is important to me, as it enables me to graze without having to take valuable arable land out of production.

“The system provides nutritious grazing for my livestock and compliments the wildlife that inhabits these wetlands.’

Visitors can watch the herds of cattle from the wetland centre and the hides out on the reserve, often catching sight of the yellow wagtail that like to feed around their feet.”

Early visitors might be able to catch a glimpse of the wardens carrying out their daily cattle checks, as they go from herd to herd by motorbike. For more information about WWT Welney go to wwt.org.uk/welney.