Highland cattle work wonders at Ganllwyd

Discover how highland cattle have given our woodlands at Dolmelynllyn a new lease of life.

In the 1970’s the woodlands within Dolmelynllyn Estate were closed off from grazing and designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and National Nature Reserve (NNR). The woodlands were fenced off and stock removed.  

For 40 years, the woodlands remained untouched from grazing which resulted in over growth and the condition of this SSSI and NNR became less favourable. Therefore in 2012, we worked in partnership with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to come up with a different approach.

Gentle giants

In March 2015, we introduced three Highland Cattle; Myfi, Wmffre and Hugo to Coed Ganllwyd. They are a hardy breed with long horns and golden wavy coats.

We wanted the cattle to graze the understory; the brambles and saplings on the ground so that other vegetation could have the chance to flourish. Myfi uses her horns to grab low branches and graze the leaves; this means that more light can reach the tree trunks and encourage lichens to grow. Our rangers have also been doing a lot of felling work to allow more light onto the ground and as a result we’ve seen a big increase in ramsons (wild garlic) and bluebells.

These highland cattle are light on their feet and graze every corner of the woodland, notice the difference between the area fenced off with no grazing on the left and where these cattle have been grazing on the right.

Notice difference between no grazing on the left side of the fence, and grazing on the right
Notice difference between no grazing on the left side of the fence, and grazing on the right
Notice difference between no grazing on the left side of the fence, and grazing on the right

In August 2016, the cattle were moved to Coed y Gamlan, near Rhaeadr Ddu where they will continue to graze the woodland. We are delighted with the impact of the cattle at Dolmelynllyn and have now been given the go ahead by NRW to add stock to two more woodlands on the estate that need to be grazed. Hopefully once the cattle have cleared the brambles we can then continue grazing the woodlands with sheep from local tenants.