About Legacy Grazing

Legacy Grazing provides management and advisory services to many of the region's finest wildlife sites. Using native breed Red Poll cattle, Dorset Down sheep and Cheviot goats, we deliver bespoke conservation grazing to managers of nature reserves and open spaces, including Essex County Council, Basildon Borough Council, Chelmsford City Council, Colchester Borough Council, Lee Valley Regional Park and East Suffolk Council. Part of Essex County Council's Place Services, we work collaboratively with our partners to achieve the highest standards of habitat management and animal welfare.

How it started

In 2009 the Essex Rural Commission were asked by Essex County Council to examine issues around living and working in rural Essex, and to develop recommendations for the delivery of improvements in the quality of life in rural Essex. Addressing the decline of livestock grazing was identified as an important issue in three of the Commission’s twelve priority areas:

  • Increase use and management of natural green spaces
  • Secure an Essex food policy
  • Nurture wilderness in Essex.

As a result, Legacy Grazing was born to help the Council and its partners work towards these aspirations.

The objectives

  • To conserve scarce wildlife and landscapes to help local authorities and other organisations demonstrate a positive commitment to Biodiversity.
  • To support the conservation of rare and traditional breeds.
  • To explain and promote the role played by grazing animals in shaping the natural and historic environment.
  • To achieve the highest standards of animal welfare.


At the start of 2010 our first pedigree Red Poll cows arrived, the equipment needed to move and maintain a herd of cattle was purchased. 13 years later and the project now supplies heritage grazing to over 900 hectares of land at sites throughout Essex, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Kent - many of which are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Local Wildlife Sites (LoWS).

Red Poll cattle are a traditional East Anglian variety identified as a native breed at risk and all of the cattle are registered as pure bred. The herd was established in 2009 and currently comprises over 300 cattle. An extensive grazing system is followed and the breed are slow maturing with each animal taking between 18 to 24 months to finish.

Goats and Sheep

In 2015 we acquired 60 Cheviot goats with a view to developing a breeding herd to complement the Red Polls and provide an effective way to control scrub that has become too tall or woody for the cattle to manage. The herd has grown to over 150 animals and represents one of the largest single groups of the breed in the UK, with the total world population around 700.

We also use our own flock of Dorset Down sheep on sites where a tighter sward and lighter touch is required.

Meet the team

Luke Bristow

Luke is an ecologist with over 20 years' experience of field survey, and providing nature conservation management, policy and planning advice. Before joining Essex County Council's Place Services, he worked in both the private and charitable sectors. He is an experienced field botanist and has been involved in habitat surveys covering some of southern England's most iconic grassland habitats such as the hay meadows of Dartmoor, chalk grasslands of the North Downs and grazing marshes in the Thames Estuary.

Read more

Roger Beecroft

Roger has always had an interest in wildlife and farming. Initially managing livestock farms in the UK and Nigeria, he made the move to full time conservation work when he joined Suffolk Wildlife Trust to design and manage the creation of the Trimley Marshes reserve on the River Orwell.

Read more

Get in touch

If you are interested in using our service, please call us on 0333 0136867 or email legacy.grazing@essex.gov.uk.