Why do we have grazing animals at Trelissick?

Illustration of cow grazing by Sonia Hensler

As many of our regular visitors will have noticed, the time of year when the cows come back to Trelissick has arrived and they have now been grazing the public side of the park for a good few weeks.

You may also observe that, several years back we have created a fenced off area at the bottom of the park to prevent these cows from wandering in. We hope this will encourage you to picnic, play and enjoy the beach over the coming months of warmer weather. 

Why do we choose to have grazing animals at Trelissick at all?

The simple truth is that livestock grazing has played a crucial part in shaping the landscape that we all enjoy today. Using farm animals helps to promote a rich and diverse habitat of plants, fungi and animals (particularly insects) by controlling the more aggressive species of grass which would otherwise come to dominate these areas. In turn, the insects that depend upon the livestock provide a vital food source to local populations of birds and bats. 

Grazing is also a more gradual, gentle method than cutting or burning and gives the littler lifeforms more time to move around or escape whilst the work is happening. Long term, grazing is also more cost effective and sustainable than the use of machines.

Cattle are fantastic for this type of management because they use their tongues to pull vegetation into their mouths. As a result they do not graze too close to the ground and leave tussocks which are havens for insects and small mammals. Cows are also not very picky about what they eat and so don’t target flower heads and other herbs, essential for the future diversity of these areas.

The cows enjoy Trelissick's excellent views
Cattle graze the parkland at Trelissick, Cornwall
The cows enjoy Trelissick's excellent views

In terms of aesthetics, seeing farm animals moving around the landscape, for many, brings a view to life and is a timely reminder that the living countryside is both a source of food and employment.

Hereford cross cattle are generally docile, causing few issues with parkland visitors but please respect them and keep your dog on a lead if you are unsure of its reaction to livestock.

We hope that you will enjoy seeing the cows and the brilliant work they do for us over the coming summer months.

– The National Trust ranger team, Trelissick and North Helford