History of the herd

Cows are crucial

The grazing that the native, pure-bred Belted Galloway cows provide is essential to the conservation of the Gloucestershire grasslands. They produce the best possible conditions to help wildlife to flourish.

Grassland decline

The dramtic decline in Cotswold limestone grassland is mostly down to the intensification of farming. To make land more profitable, many farmers changed to growing crops like wheat and barley. The lack of traditional grazing has allowed coarse grasses to take over, swamping low-growing grasses and herbs.

Grazing the slopes

Some important limestone grasslands haven't been grazed for decades with the grasses lacking many nutrients. These areas are often small and fragmented and in exposed locations with steep slopes making commercial grazing difficult. 

Cattle checking in winter
Cattle checking in winter
Cattle checking in winter

Introducing the 'Belties'

Twenty years ago we decided to start our own herd of cattle. The herd would graze the tricky, exposed and nutritionally-poor grasslands. Not all cows are suited to these conditions, but luckily Belted Galloways are. They not only thrive on steep grasslands but are also incredibly hardy and perfectly suited to live out all year round. 

1999

We bought our first heifers, naming them Beatrice, Brandy, Zelda and Voy. Another heifer, Annie joined the group later in the year.

2000

The first heifer calf was born to Annie at the Ebworth Centre, and was given the name Rodborough Thistle. 

2002

Beatrice, Brandy, Zelda and Voy all had calves, starting the suckler herd we have today. At the grand old age of 18, one of these calves,Vetch, is still in the herd today. We also bought five more heifers, taking the total to 15. 

2019

The herd has continued to grow, with 100 Belties happily munching their way around Gloucestershire's limestone grasslands. 

" All of the cattle have their own personalities and quirks. We name them after flora and fauna and run through the alphabet so you might come across names like Lilac, Lime and Liquorice."
- Kate Jones, Livestock Ranger

Grazing for nature

Limestone grasslands are made up of many different kinds of lime-loving plants including grasses, herbs, mosses and lichens that together provide a home for a variety of insects and birds. As many as 40 different plant species can be found in a single square metre.

The chalk hill blue butterfly is found on chalk and limestone downland
The chalk hill blue butterfly is found on chalk and limestone downland
The chalk hill blue butterfly is found on chalk and limestone downland

Grazing is vital for conserving the unique flora and fauna of the limestone grasslands in Gloucestershire. The cows keep the grass at just the right height for wildlife to thrive.