FCCT helps introduce sheep to Outhead
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Four-legged ‘lawnmowers’ have being drafted in to help maintain dune grasslands at the northern tip of St Andrews’ West Sands.
Sheep have been introduced at the West Sands Outhead to help with the ongoing environmental management of the area, which has already been made car-free.
Annual grass-cutting work has become increasingly expensive and there were concerns that the process was disturbing wildflowers, ground-nesting birds, butterflies and insects.
The sheep belong to local farmer and former Scottish rugby international Rob Dewey.
He volunteered to graze his rare-breed Hebridean sheep at Outhead to help promote local biodiversity and hopes to market their meat locally as Dune-raised West Sands Lamb.
“The introduction of sheep will be another positive step in the sustainable development of Outhead,” said Fife Coast and Countryside Trust Ranger Ranald Strachan.
“The area was the site of an old municipal tip, and grazing is recognised as a sound use of brownfield sites.
“The sheep will graze at Outhead between August and December, after which time the area will be left to rest and provide hibernating animals, such as dune insects, a place to winter.
“Grass will then to be left to grow long between April and August for breeding birds.
“The St Andrews Links Trust has completed erecting fencing for the sheep, but the public will have access around the pens and along the dunes to enjoy the lovely walking available there. We do request that dogs are kept under close control near the pens."
The ongoing environmental management of Outhead has already had hugely beneficial effects for the area’s plant and wildlife, allowing them to flourish relatively undisturbed and leading to higher recorded numbers of birds, spiders, hares and plants.