We offer extensive knowledge of conservation grazing combining ecological insight with practical know-how. Our team have been involved in major conservation grazing schemes at a number of nationally important sites including Hadleigh Park Olympics Legacy, Thorndon Park and Epping Forest. We team have links to an unrivalled network of partners in the environmental, agricultural and public sectors. Furthermore, as part of Essex County Council's Place Services, the project can access an array of specialists covering ecology, arboriculture, historic environment, landscape design and planning.
We are always on the look-out for new technology and ways-of-working that can improve the impact our Red Poll herd have on the habitats and landscapes they are helping to conserve. A good example is the use of GPS trackers on our cattle that enable us to determine exactly where and when they are grazing*. Not only does this allow staff and volunteers to find the cattle quicker it can be combined with ecological monitoring to avoid under or over grazing of key habitats.
*An example 'heat map' produced from data generated at Hadleigh Country Park during October to December 2014 can be viewed here.
We are not conventional livestock farmers, we offer a bespoke heritage grazing service using native breed livestock. We work with you to design a grazing regime that is tailor-made for each sites conservation objectives to make sure the grazing animals are present at the correct times and in the right places.
We take a rigorous approach to Health & Safety management. In spite of the fact that Red Polls are a docile breed no cows with calves under 3 months go onto sites with public access. Cows with calves are all temperament scored before turn-out and should any animal be considered unsuitable for public sites they are removed from the herd.
The welfare of our animals is paramount and working with our vet we have established a robust health plan that protects the herd, but in a way that does not have undesirable effects on the environment. For example, if ivermectin based treatment is used it will be done when cattle are housed and stock will not go onto sites important for wildlife within 30 days of treatment to allow the chemical to be excreted before turn-out.
When you use our service you are also supporting our wider aims to train young apprentices in livestock husbandry, work with local communities through our volunteer network and to advance the evidence-base for conservation grazing with traditional breeds.
Red Polls are a traditional breed native to East Anglia. They are ideally suited to grazing sites that are important for wildlife and open to the public. They are lighter than most commercial continental breeds, will happily forage on semi-natural vegetation and are good-natured - unfazed by dog-walkers.