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The Whitebred Shorthorn Association

Secretary's Office
Bloch Farm
Langholm
Dumfriesshire
DG13 OLS
Tel: +44-(0)1387 380360
secretary@whitebredshorthorn.com

Upland Management - The Importance Of Cattle

Blue Grey CowThe Heather Trust is a charity that works throughout the UK to promote integrated moorland management. One of the most important parts of this work is to emphasise the positive link between grazing and good moorland management. To a very large extent, grazing animals have shaped our moorland areas and they remain the ultimate moorland manager. In recent times, sheep have been the main graziers in many areas and the important role played by cattle in shaping our moors has been forgotten.

There is no avoiding the fact that management of some of our moorland areas recently has been less than exemplary. The combination of bad burning and grazing practices has tended to favour the moorland grasses rather than heather and other dwarf scrubs. This has tended to produce a monoculture of coarse, unpalatable grasses in many areas and there is a move to see this trend reversed. Forget fancy words like biodiversity, where there is a variety of vegetation there is better grazing for livestock, and other mammals and there will be greater numbers of insects for birds.

Blue Grey Cows & CalvesWhere some dwarf shrubs remain, the sensitive use of grazing can help to achieve this reversal. Cattle have a very important role to play in this work, as they are able to graze the coarse grasses in the summer to release the dwarf scrubs. In the summer months on grassy moors, the standard agri-environment scheme stocking rates should be forgotten. More often than not, it is not possible to get enough mouths turned out to control the summer grass growth. However, for grazing not to be detrimental to the emerging dwarf shrubs, it is important to reduce the grazing level, possible removing all grazing, over the winter.

The Heather Trust has a demonstration project that is funded by DEFRA to set up four moors across England & Wales. One of these moors is Marsden Moor at the northern end of the Peak District National Park. The National Trust owns this moor and The Heather Trust is working on this area to encourage the regeneration of heather on an area that is dominated currently by Purple moor-grass. Blue Grey cattle are already grazing on part of this moor and it is hoped to expand their activities, in combination with other intervention techniques.

The Heather Trust More information about The Heather Trust is available at www.heathertrust.co.uk or by telephoning Simon Thorp 01387 723201.

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Registered Office: FIFTEEN Rosehill, Montgomery Way, Rosehill Estate, Carlisle CA1 2RW
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