Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Optimal grazing management systems for sheep and beef cattle in the hills and uplands - LS3407

Description
The overall aim of this research is to evaluate grazing management systems for sheep and beef cattle in the hills and uplands, which meet environmental, market and economical objectives. These systems need to be developed to ensure that farming under the CAP reform regime will address issues of lower stocking densities and a better balance of cattle and sheep, which will improve economic viability by improving livestock quality and utilising natural resources more efficiently. The upland farm of Bronydd Mawr Research Station is an ideal upland research platform to conduct systems studies on a) Optimising stocking and husbandry of hill livestock to promote upland biodiversity, while making best use of the available resources; b) Producing high quality, naturally reared animals that meet consumer demands using environmentally sustainable and welfare-friendly systems; c) Utilising improved upland pastures in a cost-effective manner; and d) Minimising diffuse pollution effects. This project has four major objectives: 1) To study the long-term effects of grazing Molinia caerulea dominant semi-natural rough grazing during the summer months by cattle or sheep on plant species composition, structure and nutritive quality; 2) To study the effects of differing cattle to sheep ratios when mixed grazing of improved permanent pastures in the uplands; 3) To study the production and environmental consequences of removing cattle from improved permanent pasture to graze semi-natural rough grazings during the summer months; and 4) To create a global UK research platform for the study of upland systems. The research will be of major benefit to Defra Policy Division in indicating appropriate policies for the management of livestock production to sustain and enhance the environment in the LFAs, which account for almost half the agricultural land in the UK. This will underpin Defra’s stated policy aim of ensuring that consumers benefit from competitively priced food, which has been produced to high standards of safety, environmental care and animal welfare and from a sustainable, efficient food chain and to contribute to the well-being of rural communities. The research will also contribute to the continuing debate on the effects of the Single Farm Payment on livestock farming in the uplands.
Objective
1.To study the long-term effects of grazing Molinia caerulea dominant semi-natural rough grazing during the summer months by cattle or sheep on plant species composition, structure and nutritive quality.

2.To study the effects of differing cattle to sheep ratios when mixed grazing of improved permanent pastures in the uplands.

3.To study the production and environmental consequences of removing cattle from improved permanent pasture to graze semi-natural rough grazings during the summer months.

4.To create a research platform for the study of upland systems.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Optimal grazing management systems for sheep and beef cattle in the hills and uplands   (578k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2009

Cost: £1,452,307
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER), University Wales, Aberystwyth
Keywords
Agricultural Land              
Biodiversity              
Environmental Protection              
Farming              
Hill Farming              
Livestock Farming              
Meat Quality              
Natural Resource Use              
Rural Communities              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study
Livestock