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Grazing Pilot FAQs

What is the grazing pilot?

This is a pilot scheme to reintroduce cattle grazing for wildlife conservation to the country park. Cattle grazing was undertaken by local people on the Chase before the First World War and had been a traditional way of managing the heath for centuries. Grazing helps naturally manage the vegetation so that wildlife can thrive, and the site stays open and accessible.

Where is the pilot site?

The pilot is at Moors Gorse, a small area of heath not far from the visitor centre. The site is less than 2% of the country park.

How many cattle will be there?

There will be a small number of Hereford cattle grazing this area – delivering low level grazing suited to benefit wildlife.

When will the cattle be on site?

Cattle will arrive in August 2021 and remain on site until the Autumn. Cattle grazing will then continue each year from spring to autumn, with exact dates depending on weather conditions and vegetation growth.

Why is cattle grazing needed?

Grazing is a natural way of managing the vegetation, mimicking the action of wild herbivores that would once have roamed through our countryside but many of which are now extinct. It helps stop competitive grasses and scrub from taking over and allows smaller flowering plants to flourish. This in turn supports more wildlife, providing food plants and nectar sources for a wider range of insects throughout the year. Grazing works alongside other management techniques (e.g. cutting heather and scrub, bracken spraying) and over time will reduce the need for these other techniques, making management more natural and sustainable.

Will the cattle affect wildlife?

Grazing will benefit wildlife by helping manage the vegetation, creating the right conditions for more species to flourish. Using low numbers of cattle (six cattle in an area the size of 25 rugby pitches) means they won’t affect ground nesting birds, reptiles etc.

Will deer still be able to use the area?

Deer will still use the area and special measures have been put in place to ensure they can move around freely. Sections of railing in the fence will help the deer cross, including young animals plus other wildlife like foxes and badgers.

How will I know if cattle are in the fenced area?

Signs on the gates will inform you whether cattle are present or not.

Can I still walk in this area?

You can still walk in this area as before at any time. We would suggest giving the cattle plenty of space as you walk through.

Can I take my dog into the fenced area?

You can still take your dog into the fenced area – as in any other part of the country park, you should keep your dog under close control. It is generally best to keep dogs away from the cattle so both animals have space. Please pick up any dog poo and do not leave poo bags on the site as these can be dangerous to livestock.

Can I ride my horse / bike in the fenced area?

There are no bridleways in this part of the country park so there has never been a formal right of access for bikes / horses. You can ride along the bridleway near the fenced area in the same way as before.

Can I feed or approach the cattle?

It is best not to approach the cattle and please do not feed them. This can encourage unhelpful behaviour and some foods are very dangerous to livestock.

What if the cattle approach me?

Cattle can be curious and may approach – calmly walk away. In the unlikely event that the cattle seem aggressive, leave the fenced area by the nearest gate. If you have a dog with you and cattle are chasing, it is safer to let your dog off the lead. If you experience any issues, please contact the rangers.

Are cattle dangerous?

Many busy public sites have used conservation grazing for many years and problems are extremely rare. Problems generally involve breeding animals (mothers protecting young), which is why we are using non-breeding animals.

What if I would prefer not to go near the cattle?

The fenced area is a very small part of the country park (less than 2%) so there are plenty of routes to use if you prefer not to be near the cattle. The cattle are also only there for 6-7 months of the year.

Have people been consulted about the grazing pilot?

Yes, we have been talking to people about conservation grazing since 2016. Information about the consultation can be found on our website

Will grazing also be reintroduced to other parts of the site?

Because of the benefits grazing brings for wildlife, we would like to extend grazing to more (but not all) of the country park. Before any further grazing is considered, there will be more discussion and consultation.

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