Sheep grazing on the Skyline

Sheep are grazing Richens Orchard

The sheep are back in Richens Orchard, to enjoy a delicious diet of grass and wildflowers, and to save the ranger team from a lot of cutting and raking.

In 2016 we began using a small local flock of sheep to graze Richens Orchard. Before then the grassland had been cared for by cutting and then raking and removing the grass by hand, which took many hours each summer. Grazing is a traditional management method for orchards. Sympathetic grazing over time will produce a wildflower sward – a pasture of fine grasses and wildflowers.

We decided to look for a more sustainable and traditional approach, so began working with a local farmer and a small flock of sheep.

However, due to dog attacks through recent years Richens Orchard will be closed to walkers when sheep are grazing. There is a diversion route around the orchard.

Benefits of grazing in Richens Orchard

  • Biological benefits – increase in wildflowers and fine grasses

  • Landscape benefits –  this is a traditional way of managing the orchard grassland.

  • Benefits to the ranger team – less labour intensive

  • Benefits to the sheep – they get a diet of diverse grasses and flowers - tasty!