Conservation grazing

A small herd of pedigree Belted Galloway's are managed by the Rangers at Swan Barn farm. The herd are essential for the conservation of the wildflower rich meadows and other local sites, including heathlands on Black Down and Marley Common. They are a traditional, hardy breed living outside all year round thanks to their think curly winter coat. Making their way to Swan Barn Farm for spring to calve and enjoy some lush pasture before they head back up on the hills for the winter.

The Belted Galloway cows provide low – intensity grazing at Swan Barn Farm during the spring and summer months to help increase biodiversity. The cattle break up the sward, creating ideal habitat for a range of species. An extensive grazing system requires little need for chemical treatment meaning a whole range of wildlife benefits.  The cowpats alone support up to 250 species of insect and in turn provide food for birds, badgers and bats. They are a key part of the jigsaw that make up the landscape, as well as the cyclic pattern of the changing seasons. Having them here is one of the real pleasures of our work and without them our local landscape would be much the poorer.

Belted galloway calves playing in the sunshine
Calves playing in the sunshine
Belted galloway calves playing in the sunshine

The Belted Galloway is a traditional breed and was chosen for their placid nature to have grazing the open access meadows at Swan Barn Farm. We do ask to keep dogs under close control especially when they have calves at foot. Keep an eye out for the first cows to arrive back at Swan Barn farm in the spring, they will be calving soon. Help us by making sure all gates are left as they are found; we don’t want thirsty calves being separated from their mums. 
Being a farm, the cattle have another purpose besides encouraging biodiversity. The Galloway’s and their Belted cousins are a celebrated traditional beef breed. They are slow to mature and fed on a diet of only what can be grazed naturally in the grasslands and heathlands. This produces a higher quality meat, that’s yet to be matched.  The beef is used at our events to make Beltie Beef Burgers or rich warming stews at our Winter Wassail.