Grazing Animal Project

Grazing Animals

Helping to stop the decline of Yorkshire's wildlife by ensuring our nature reserves and those of others are better managed for wildlife.

Key aims

Grasslands, meadows, saltmarsh and wetlands are often maintained in an 'open' condition by the activities of grazing animals. Before humans intervened, it is likely that Yorkshire was a patchwork of woodland, grassland and wetland, the diversity being created by natural events and the impacts of native animals, including wild cattle, horses, deer and others.

As people exerted their influence a new patchwork was created and wild grazers and browsers were replaced by domestic animals, such as sheep, goats and cattle. Today, the landscape is heavily modified, but we can mimic the conditions that would have occurred through implementing a modern take on the natural conditions.

What we are doing

Across our nature reserves we undertake proactive intervention - conservation management - to keep that habitats in good condition for the wildlife found there. If left, most habitats would succeed, through scrub to woodland, given time. Nothing wrong with that, but this would rapidly diminish the range of habitats left in the countryside and we would reduce Yorkshire's wildlife dramatically.

Sites can be managed in some cases by mechanical cutting - floodplain meadows are a good example - but in other areas, grazing is the most effective and efficient management tool.

The Trust has built up capacity to graze its own sites as this ensures we can carefully control the amount and timing of grazing. In some areas we are supported by other people who use their stock to graze our land.

We prefer native breeds such as Hebridean sheep and highland cattle as these are better able to withstand harsher weather and tough ground conditions. Also, they are happy to eat coarser vegetation which is often the stuff we want removing! In recent years we have started to try and move more towards cattle as they deliver a more variable impact on the land. However, the equipment etc needed to handle cattle makes this job quite tricky!

How you can help

We have a duty of care to our grazing animals. If you are visiting one of our sites where grazing animals are present, please take time to have a look at them. If an animal looks ill or injured, please contact us by telephone on 01904 659570.

If you are visiting a site where we permit dogs, please take great care to keep your dog on a lead and away from the animals. Also, please clean up after your dog as dog mess can cause various nasty diseases in livestock as well as people. 

If you would like to help the Trust directly, we are often on the look out for people to help 'check' our stock. Please get in touch by emailing if you would like to help!

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Wool Products

Discover how our fabulous 'flying flock' is also giving back to nature thanks to their beautiful fleeces!