Conservation grazing on Charlton Kings Common and Leckhampton Hill with virtual fencing

Published on 28th October 2021

James and Katie Allen, from Heritage Graziers, with their native breed cattle

Two native breeds, British Whites and English Longhorns, are being introduced to provide conservation grazing thanks to local graziers James and Katie Allen.

  • Two native breeds, British Whites and English Longhorns are being introduced to Charlton Kings Common and Leckhampton Hill.
  • Cattle will be fitted with GPS collars for virtual fencing as part of a modern land management technique funded by the National Grid.

Native breed cattle on Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common will soon be introduced as part of conservation grazing thanks to local graziers James and Katie Allen from ‘Heritage Graziers’ who have been commissioned by Cheltenham Borough Council.

Cattle grazing continues to be an important part of maintaining the valuable grassland of Leckhampton Hill, Charlton Kings Common and neighbouring fields. The area has been grazed by Dexter cattle for the past ten years, often admired by local residents and visitors. As their grazier tenancy came to an end, the council with Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (FOLK) took the opportunity to revaluate the conservation management of the site including adding new ‘no fence’ technology for paddock grazing. This will allow local species of rich grassland to flourish. Local graziers were invited to submit bids for a new contract and local grazing partnership, Heritage Graziers took tenancy from 18 October with two native breeds of cattle, British Whites and English Longhorns.

Wayne Sedgwick, senior community ranger, explains: “We are very grateful for all the hard work and commitment of our previous grazier and the Dexter herd, without which we’d have lost valuable parts of our wildlife.

“We are excited to welcome our new herd who arrive on Monday 1 November in the afternoon. They will provide critical grazing at all sites to make sure the land flourishes. Members of the greenspace team volunteers from FOLK and the graziers will be available to answer any questions the public have about the GPS collars, virtual fencing and the cattle. The animals may be inquisitive so we just want to make sure the public know how to deal with them when they are enjoying the common, especially if they are walking their dog. We hope that the public welcome the new herd as they did with the Dexters.”

Visitors to the area will be able to track the cattle and therefore plan their route at heritagegraziers.co.uk/where-are-the-cows

Cllr Victoria Atherstone member for culture, wellbeing and business said: “I’m delighted to see these striking looking native breeds British Whites and English Longhorns being introduced to the borough’s common land. This partnership with local graziers will see a traditional method working in harmony with nature with the added benefit of new and impressive ‘virtual fencing’ technology. Cattle will be free to roam and graze without a physical boundary but will still keep to the same area using virtual fencing technology. This will help to control invasive vegetation and is a preferred method compared to the use of machinery and potential herbicide use.”

Volunteers from FOLK, the council’s greenspace team and the graziers will be giving out advice on how to behave around the animals on the afternoon of Monday 1 November and Tuesday 2 November at Cowslip Meadow and also on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 November at the same location (what3words-zebra.dimension.pokes).

Heritage Grazier, Katie Allen, continued: “We’re thrilled that our British White and English Longhorns will soon be at their new home. The cattle will be fitted with GPS collars as part of a new virtual fencing technique and tracked at all times. The way in which we manage their grazing is a great example of how livestock farming and the environment can work hand in hand.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the cattle settle in their new environment and talking to the public about our two breeds. The collars offer an exciting opportunity to remove the need for electric fencing, whilst still offering the environmental benefits of targeted grazing. Virtual fencing is invisible to the eye, instead the collars deliver a small audible warning sound which is followed by a pulse, less than the size of a traditional electric fence, if the cattle do not turn away before reaching the boundary.”

To find out more about Heritage grazing visit heritagegraziers.co.uk


For press enquiries contact: communications, telephone 01242 264154 or email: communications@cheltenham.gov.uk

Notes

  • The cattle are having ongoing training with the collars in this particular field (Cowslip Meadow) as there is less foot traffic, so electric fencing will be used as a secondary measure.
  • Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (FOLK) is a volunteer organisation formed in 2000. It aims to represent all the users and lovers of Leckhampton Hill, Daisy Bank Fields, and Charlton Kings Common, whether their interest is ecological, historical or recreational. FOLK hold regular work parties on the Hill and Common. Find out more at leckhamptonhill.org.uk/about-us
  • Almost £175k was awarded by National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative to develop and enhance Leckhampton Hill, Charlton Kings Common and Ravensgate Common. The Landscape Enhancement Initiative is part of National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project which makes use of a provision from the regulator, Ofgem, to reduce the landscape and visual impact of existing high-voltage electricity infrastructure in English and Welsh AONBs and National Parks.