Cattle grazing at Brimham Rocks
In a few years we will be introducing cattle to graze the moorland at Brimham Rocks. The cattle will be a gentle, but hardy breed. They will graze the moorland vegetation to maintain a healthy habitat.
Grazing is an important part of moorland management. Livestock will graze the vegetation and eat young saplings to maintain a healthy, mixed age structure of vegetation in the habitat. Grazing will help us manage the moorland more effectively and sustainably than we are able to do now.
To manage the cattle we are planning on erecting a fence. To maintain Brimham moorland as open access land we will install kissing gates across existing footpaths and desire lines. In other areas stiles, no more than 50m apart, will be installed. The fence will follow the boundary and road sides – there will be no livestock in the main visitor area or car park.
Grazing will improve the habitat on Brimham Moor, because the cattle will:
Browse off the young birch saplings and the coarser grasses
Maintain a varied structure of heather to improve the habitat for ground nesting birds
Prevent the further growth of large trees which dry out the moor
Introduce droppings and poach the ground to diversify the habitat for invertebrates
Improve soil quality by increasing bacteria and fungi content
" We will be using cattle instead of sheep or horses because the cattle rips and pulls rather than nibbles at the vegetation. They also eat on the move, a little here and a little there and are less selective than sheep or horses, they aren’t as choosy about what they eat. This helps create a varied age structure that will benefit other species that call moorland their home."
Where possible we will source local cattle and choose a breed of cattle that:
- Is hardy and can stay out in all weathers.
- Is hard mouthed and will browse as well as graze a variety of vegetation.
- Is placid and not fazed by members of the public and their dogs.
- Are not young and flighty, or cows with calves.
Finding the balance
The cattle will only be on site for the summer months to begin with. The timing and intensity of the grazing may be altered as time goes on, to ensure they are having the right impact. Getting the grazing levels right is going to be our biggest challenge. We will carefully monitor the habitat throughout the years to come to ensure that the cattle are having the desired effect. This may involve increasing or decreasing numbers where necessary, or moving the cattle around the site to target their grazing. We will find out more once we have installed the regime and will keep everyone informed as to any changes we may make in the future.