A Bit About Moorlands

Moorland is in fact a man-made landscape dating back several thousand years since we started to domesticate animals. Basically animals were shepherded on the higher grounds which were less productive, and moorland was established. It become an incredibly rich landscape supporting a wonderfully diverse flora and fauna which was dependent on man grazing animals on it and burning it to prevent it returning to less diverse scrubland. Its not very often that the human species has enhanced and increased biodiversity in the Western world and I find this relationship intriguing and fascinating to explore. Our moorland is an example of heath that has become overgrown and scrubby. As a result the predominant specie of plant is gorse and bracken. With our grazing and burning we hope to reestablish our relationship with our heath.

The Cows are Back

The cows have been rotating around our fields and are now back at the top of the hill in our field called Miles. Here they are being called out onto the moor for the day, they were pretty eager. As there is no water the cows are called back into Miles at the end of the day. This has been working really well as we know they are safely in the field at night and by this time they could do with a drink.

We realised that we should let people know what we are doing, rather than them wondering why there is a rope across the path! We hope that this will help.

A photograph of how straight forward it is to unhook the rope to pass through;

The advantage of this system of ‘fencing in’ is that it can all be removed when the cows are not out grazing the moor.

A Drive into the heath

We have made a drive through the scrubby verge into the heather and grassland. We felt that the cows needed help to encourage them to explore the moor. This was very simply done by driving the tractor over the gorse and bracken to the grassland beyond, as you can see in the photograph below. I have to remember that they are new to this and will need help to ‘heft’ and rediscover foraging. So far they really do seem to be enjoying the freedom and the change in diet – they were all waiting at the gate this morning!


There is plenty of grass for the cows. This has come through after doing a burn in February 2008 which burnt of most of the shrubby, leggy gorse and bracken. With our cows grazing Tor Noon the bracken will be suppressed by the cows literally stepping on the ‘hooks’ of the bracken as they come through. The gorse will grow back tighter and will respond well to a good pruning from the cows and will flower all the more. The burn and the grazing will allow the heather to re-establish and with more light getting to the under storeys, a more diverse collection of moorland flowers, herbs and grasses will hopefully establish as well. As you can see there are a large number fox gloves on the moor which is a real delight to see. I reckon that the cows will benefit from grazing a larger number of herbaceous plants – at the very least they will find it less boring then just grass, and I think the beef will taste better too!

Cow Pychology!

The cows have come to lie down and chew the cud in our very smallest field that we keep open for them. They seem to like the comfort of a field with grass and I can’t decide whether this is because they feel more relaxed with four hedges around them or whether it’s purely more comfortable lying down in there?

By Lisa Guy

I am an organic beef and wildlife farmer

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