Grazing is a vital management method in helping the Trust look after Surrey's protected landscapes.

Historic Farming

The landscapes of Surrey havebeen grazed for centuries and farming has played a crucial role in shaping these habitats. The continuation or reintroduction of grazing is vital for the survival of these habitats and many of the species that exist within them. Grazing is often used with other techniques and, when done so, it becomes an even more powerful tool in protecting and enhancing biodiversity.

Natural Control

Grazing is the most natural method of looking after the land. As the animals graze across the landscape, they make the decisions where they concentrate their efforts. By doing this they create a mosaic of different sward lengths, bare ground and micro habitats. This all contributes to maximising the potential for biodiversity on a grazed site.

Livestock grazing has less instantaneous impact than burning or cutting so allows slower moving species to thrive. The animals can also access areas where machinery fails. Much of Surrey’s remaining chalk grassland is on steep slopes, so sure footed animals are a more successful management tool than vehicles.

Added Benefits

The livestock are part of the living fabric of the county and reconnect people to the area’s history. Visitors to the SWT estate are telling us how they are enjoying seeing the animals with family groups setting our specially to see the grazing herds of cattle and goats.

Do consider whether you could help us care for the animals on a site near you by becoming a “livestock looker!” These are local people who are given training in what to look for in healthy animals and to report back on anything unusual. Fill out our volunteer registration form.

Grazing has additional benefits as it supports traditional meadow management techniques such as hay making and aftermath grazing. These activities reduce competition by coarse grasses and allow plant seedlings to flourish so increasing biodiversity on meadows.

The animal’s dung creates a whole ecosystem by itself. Due to conservation grazing animals usually being grazed in extensive, low pressure systems there is a reduced need for chemicals to control internal parasites. This means that a whole range of wildlife moves into a cowpat to set up home!

During the height of summer a cowpat usually disappears completely within a month due to the amount of invertebrate life that arrives and is then itself hunted by badgers, foxes and birds.

The introduction of grazing is often the most effective and sustainable conservation method available to land managers.