Our herd of pedigree Red Ruby Devons are grazed on our farmland and on the St Martin’s land managed by the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust. We work closely with the Wildlife Trust to help them look after some of the most beautiful and environmentally important marine heathland in the UK.
History of grazing in Scilly
In the past cattle, horses, ponies and donkeys were grazed on Scilly not only on enclosed farmland but also on the unenclosed ‘common’ land. Over time agricultural and horticultural production on Scilly changed and there were a lot less animals available to graze this rough land.
Why grazing is important
Reintroducing grazing helps to keep the gorse and bracken and other invasive species under control, leaving more space for other plants to grow and so increasing biodiversity. The animal dung produced and the flattened areas made from hooves encourage insects, which birds can feed from.
Grazing is also more effective than clearing with machinery, when mechanical cutting is done the area looks very artificial and ‘stripy’, it costs a lot more and is much less environmentally friendly. Also on steep slopes cows can graze where it would be dangerous for a tractor to go.