Surrey Wildlife Trust established a herd of Belted Galloway cattle to fulfil the growing need for conservation grazing across the county. Owning our own cattle meant were not relying on external graziers. A breeding herd was decided upon as this allowed numbers to be increased whilst having full control over cattle temperament and health.

The cattle graze a range of rare and special habitats including lowland heath, chalk grassland, river meadows and woodland pasture. They also graze for a number of our partner organisations including the MOD and the National Trust. At peak times, the Trust can have 400+ cattle grazing across 30 sites.

The Belted Galloway was chosen as it is the perfect breed for conservation grazing. Its iconic look makes it a hit with the general public and also easy to find on large nature reserves. Its medium size, gentle nature and being a naturally polled breed, makes handling stress-free. Its ability to thrive on poor quality forage and out-winter, makes it well-suited to conservation grazing management systems.

To increase the quality and value of the herd, it was decided to work towards being fully pedigree, registering cattle under the prefix ‘Wisley’. Foundation females came from the Halstock herd with further heifers and cows being purchased from the Fernyford and Saltway herds. Stock bulls used have come from Whitepool, Maximus, Fernyford, Shelsleys, Coulmony, Glen, Lomond and Off The Wall herds.

The herd is managed on an out-wintering forage-based system. Temperament and high health are at the core of everything we do. The Trust makes its own late cut hay and wrapped haylage where no barn storage is available. Around 85 cows spring-calve outside on a rented former intensive sheep farm that the Trust is managing in a wildlife friendly way. Steers and heifers not required for breeding are used for conservation grazing and sold to specialist butchers at 4 to 5 years old. It is hoped in the future to sell breeding heifers.