Holistic grazing at Croome
Croome is reaping the benefits after introducing ‘holistic grazing’ to the meadows in the parkland. Traditional breeds of cattle now graze across the picturesque estate of Croome near Worcester transforming once impoverished soil into a healthy and natural environment teeming with wildlife.
“Our farmer has been grazing here for almost two years using the ‘holistic grazing’ method and we’re very happy with the results we’re seeing.” said Katherine Alker, Croome’s Garden and Outdoors Manager. “The added bonus is significant improvements in the diversity of wildlife that we’ve now got across the park, with mammals such as field voles and harvest mice seen frequently, and kestrels drawn in by increased opportunity for food.”
When the farming tenancy came up for renewal, we seized the opportunity to look for a new way of managing the land as well as providing the right ‘look’ for the 18th century ‘Capability’ Brown landscape park.
Holistic grazing improves the soil and increases organic matter. Farmer, Rob Havard, is a huge believer in this technique. For the past two years, he has now been grazing his 40 strong herd of cattle which includes Aberdeen Angus and traditional short-horns, on the meadows using 140 acres of the estate.
Holistic grazing involves an individual section of a patchwork of meadow being fenced off to be grazed. Rob carefully monitors the grazing and regularly moves the cattle to a new section and thereby preventing overgrazing. By doing this, grasses and herbs in the meadow have a long time to rest and re-grow which in turn this creates wider bio-diversity providing continuous habitat throughout the year for wildlife.
“It's really satisfying to see the cattle thriving while also enhancing the wildlife and environment the cattle are in,” said Rob Havard. “When I started farming there was always this tension between the ecology and productivity of the farm business but with Holistic Planned Grazing everything moves in the right direction giving me the opportunity to expand my small farming business while also enhancing the natural habitats on the land.”
Croome’s parkland has now been transformed from an arable monoculture with impoverished soils as it was when the National Trust purchased it in 1996, to a vibrant carpet of diverse plants, all returning organic matter from healthy root systems.