Many of our most treasured landscapes - such as meadows and heathlands - require low intensity grazing with traditional breeds to conserve them. This is referred to as 'heritage grazing'.
Lack of grazing is one of the biggest threats facing semi-natural open habitats. In the absence of livestock, scrub and eventually trees will often suppress and replace wildflowers.
Finding livestock to graze public open spaces can be difficult, and mowing is increasingly seen as a less viable alternative due to the rising costs of labour and fuel. Not to mention the challenge posed by the disposal of large quantities of cut-grass.
As a result, Place Services conceived the Essex Grazing Project to provide low-cost heritage grazing to local authorities. From 2013, we began offering this innovative service to land managers who require native breed livestock, such as those whose land is within Environmental Stewardship.
Grazing management is often a condition of entry in to Countryside Stewardship, which is an important source of revenue income for public and third sector site managers. The maintenance of visually attractive open areas rich in wildlife can greatly enhance the experience of visitors to Country Parks and Nature Reserves. However, introducing cattle requires careful planning. The project can provide training to site staff and volunteers as well as assist with public engagement to minimise potential conflicts with park-users.
Our herd of native breed Red Poll cattle was established in 2009 and we now own over 80 breeding cows in 2015. A dedicated herd manager is responsible for the cattle and is supported by a young apprentice and a network of volunteers.
Not only is the Project helping its partners implement sustainable low-cost heritage grazing, it also providing apprenticeship opportunities to young people wishing to learn about livestock husbandry, and helping to promote the positive benefits of heritage grazing. This includes running a volunteer scheme encouraging local communities to play an active role helping monitor the welfare of the herd.
Read more about the Project on its website.
As part of any project, Place Services can also undertake: