Conservation grazing and Dexter Cattle

A conservation project we have been working on for several years, introducing Dexter Cattle to help manage a traditional orchard on a hilly terrain. Our experience so far:

Leading down to the river Severn in Worcestershire, a once uninhabited area is being revitalised and re-established. Local species of trees have been reintroduced to the sloping hard terrain of a traditional orchard, where an innovative conservation approach is taking root. We were tasked with introducing several Dexter cows to the orchards and to help balance sustainable farming practices while nurturing a rich tapestry of biodiversity.

The cows' grazing habits play a vital role in managing vegetation growth, allowing a diverse range of plant species to flourish. This relationship benefits both the orchard's productivity and the overall health of the surrounding area.

Dexter cows, being a smaller-sized breed, are well-suited for navigating the apple and plum orchards. Their nimble and efficient grazing patterns, being ‘light-footed’ mixed with their hardiness, help control vegetation growth without harming the trees or disrupting the delicate ecosystem. This targeted grazing approach promotes sustainable land management practices.

They contribute to the fertility of the land through their natural grazing habits. As they graze, they naturally enrich the soil with their manure, providing essential nutrients. This organic fertilisation process enhances the health and vitality of the orchard's soil, reducing reliance on synthetic fertilisers.

Their presence in the orchards sparks a flourishing of biodiversity. Their grazing activities create open spaces and microhabitats that encourage the growth of various plant species. Moreover, the orchards have become havens for small mammals, birds and insects especially saproxylic (dead wood loving) invertebrates forming a vibrant ecosystem teeming with wildlife.

Our use of Dexter cows working alongside Worcestershire's traditional orchard conservation, shows the benefits from combining sustainable farming practices, biodiversity preservation, and land management. This approach fosters a thriving ecosystem benefitting all.

Do you manage conservation land? Would love to hear from you.

#conservation #grazing #farming #dextercattle #orchards #philippusfarm

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