Social herds

FREE Nature promotes the introduction of rewilded herds of bovines and horses, to reclaim the ecological role of their wild ancestors, aurochs and Eurasian wild horses. Also the reintroduction of wild species such as deer, bison and wild boar is promoted. All wild herbivores live in so called social herds, a natural reflection youngsters, sub adults, adults and older individuals, with a natural sex balance and with leading and following animals. Within complete natural herds each animals is able develop its own social behaviour.

From a distance, a herd of wild bovines looks like one big diffuse group of animals. But in fact it consists of many smaller groups. Matriarchal groups in which an older cow taking the lead, her daughters and granddaughters following her guidance. Younger animals are being raised by their mothers and aunts. A new born calf is hidden far away from the herds in dense thickets. Only once its gained its strength it will join its mother inside the herd.

Wild horses live in harem groups, led by an older mare. She decides what the group does when and where. The leading stallion protects the herd form other stallions and predators alike. Foals are born inside the herd and must immediately be able to run along with it.

Young bulls and stallions spend their days apart from these female groups. At its prime a bull tries to cover its own territory, waiting for the female groups to come by, constantly keeping other bulls at bay. Adults stallions try to take over an existing harem or start a new own with single mares. Others choose to became a helper of a leading stallion, striding for his aid and if lucky being granted several privileges.

Although our society is very familiar with horses and cattle as domestic animals, we’d still know very little about their natural behaviour. Indeed humans used to decided their place within the social order. Excess bulls are being castrated or slaughtered, youngsters are set apart form their mothers at an very young age and being weaned. In most cases there is disbalance in sex ratio, very strongly favouring cows and mares, because these are the animals which will produce our future income. This takes away the opportunity for the animals to build their own social structure.