How are we planning to graze Brimham Rocks?

Thinking about introducing cattle at Brimham.

We will be using cattle rather than 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 choosey about what they eat. This helps create a varied age structure that will benefit other species that call moorland their home.

There is evidence that cattle grazing, reduces the cover and biomass of purple moor grass more than sheep grazing alone (Natural England 2013) and by reducing the cover of purple moor grass, the habitat will benefit from a more diverse range of species thriving at Brimham.
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 correct 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 not know more about this until we have installed the regime and we will keep everyone informed as to any changes we make.


Examples

Cattle grazing has been used to great effect at many places across the country, including at Lyme Park, the Cotswolds and by Butterfly Conservation and the Wildlife Trust.