For anyone that uses our Little Houghton reserve, you may see the newest members of the Dearne Valley team. 

Konik's being unloaded at Little Houghton - Paul Gould

Meet Ada, Trevor and Col

Settling in nicely - Lucy Kucharik

The ponies are a modern strain of the original European wild horse – the Tarpan. The wild Tarpan died out at the end of the last century, but a programme in Poland is trying to breed them back, using modern descendants which have the strongest Tarpan features. Today’s Konik Polski horses are visually similar to their ancestors, with a mouse-coloured coat and a black stripe down their back.

Who's there? - Paul Gould

Koniks also have many characteristics of the wild species – they are long lived, very strong and very hardy; they are rarely ill, never catch colds and wounds heal without attention; they are used to foraging in wet conditions, and will graze and live on vegetation that domestic animals will not touch. They will naturally loose and gain weight and condition through the year, and they don't need to be housed in poor weather, indeed they are often seen out in temperatures well below zero in their native Poland. 

Little Houghton is managed largely as fen, this means that it is wet year round. This type of habitat can quickly become dominated by willow and birch scrub, drying out and choking up the fen. Using traditional cattle to graze fenland is difficult, the wet conditions leave cattle prone to issues with their legs and feet, and their preference for grass means that the willow and reed would be largely left to grow unchecked.

  

View over Little Houghton today - Lucy Kucharik

The Koniks will naturally seek out a wide variety of vegetation and particularly enjoy browsing on young willow, helping us with the constant battle with scrub clearance. The way they graze means that they will open up wet areas benefiting a wide range of species such as water mint, flag iris and a variety of sedges, this open structure creates a fantastic habitat for amphibians, insects and a range of birds.

These grazing habits produce a really varied sward and will help to protect the Dearne Valley's population of snipe, and other waders. 

We are excited to see what these fantastic animals can do. 

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