The cattle stars of hellmitzheim

The gelbvieh cattle stand quietly at the feed stand, look up briefly and pluck at the hay again. Their cattle pasture is huge, with several old trees and around 200 newly planted ones. Hutung heibt dieses gelande in der nahe von hellmitzheim. The place, where the animals are since spring 2011, belongs to the 3142 hectare area of the life+ nature conservation project "forests and forest meadow valleys at the edge of the steigerwald near iphofen".
Rainer fell stops briefly with the service vehicle. The urban forester of iphofen plays a decisive role in the project. Now fell looks into the distance, where the hut borders the forest, and scans the edge of the forest.

In the fall of 2012, five red deer from the spessart region were released on the second part of the hut. The pack is to grow to a maximum of 20 animals. "The red deer used to be native here; 200 years ago it was exterminated", tells rainer fell.

The cattle were here before them. It all began with four heavy heifers and a bull. The herd grew. After the cows had calved for the second time, the bull was replaced so that inbreeding would not occur. In the meantime, a shelter for 15 cattle and other grazing facilities were built. The gelbvieh is an old, french breed and tolerates free-range farming well. This breed has virtually disappeared from agriculture because it cannot compete with the milk production of others.

The animals are just right for the nature conservation project, says rainer fell. He contributed ideas when the project was submitted to the european union, and when some people need to pitch in, he can put his forest workers to work. Fell is the head of the urban forestry department in charge of the project for the town of iphofen and is a member of the steering committee.

The area between iphofen, uffenheim and bad windsheim is the last coarsely cultivated middle forest area in germany. Oak groves and old cattle pastures are found on the edge of the steigerwald forest. Much of the former cultivation has been forgotten or abandoned. The small herd of gelbvieh cattle shows how the old hut near hellmitzheim was once farmed.
Some farmers had objected to no longer being able to use the leased flatlands economically. But rainer fell says: "the public sector can do something for nature conservation."
On 1. October the project started. Much has been dug, fenced, planted, cleared and prepared since then. Some of the work may not have been noticed by the population at all. The opening of the middle forest information pavilion near the bildeiche in august 2012, however, may have been remembered.

At the end of 2014 the life+ project expires. Until then there is still a lot to do. Three adventure trails are to be created on the themes of middle forest, grazing and primeval forest.
In addition to information boards, interactive game elements are planned, with which children in particular can learn important facts about biodiversity, habitats and forms of cultivation. At the gates of the hut a lookout point will be erected.

Vineyard as before
What is also still pending is the project goal "restoration of a traditionally structured vineyard area". A special feature of the traditionally cultivated vineyards is the use of dry stone walls for terracing. They are an excellent biotope for reptiles. On the schwanberg, a flat area of half an acre is to be restored with traditional vineyard structures and a fruit meadow. For this purpose, the historical vineyard area was cleared in spring 2012. In autumn the dry stone wall was built and this spring the planting of vines will follow.


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