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Goats Grazing Grassland at Goblin Combe

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Posted: Wednesday 5th July 2017 by WildBlog

By Joe McSorley, Conservation Advisor

Nature Reserve Managers face a wide range of challenges to try to maintain diversity and abundance of wildflowers on our grassland nature reserves which in turn act as an important nectar source for butterflies and other invertebrates.
Grazing is probably our most versatile method of doing this but selecting the right livestock can be tricky as our sites often need animals who are comfortable with steep slopes and uneven ground, who don’t mind a wide range of herbage and most importantly livestock that are tolerant and unfazed by the human visitors and their pets.

At Goblin Combe we’ve used hardy Soay sheep in the past but they’ve struggled to keep some of the vegetation under control and we now have lots of woody regrowth around the site including lots of turkey oak saplings and invasive garden escapees such as cotoneaster.

Working with an innovative project in Bristol called StreetGoat we’ve recently introduced a small herd of goats into our Goblin Combe nature reserve. Goats are much less preferential in their browsing and they’ll consume a wide range of plants including some of the woody species that encroach onto grasslands. We’ll monitor how they and the grassland progress over the next 6-9 months. By grazing our nature reserve the goats help us meet our conservation objectives.

If you’re visiting Goblin Combe and you see the goats feel free to report on how they are faring or if you’re a regular visitor we can sign you up to our “Goats Grazing at Goblin Combe” Whatsapp group. Please get in touch with Joe if you would like to be added to the group.

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