Cattle to be used to control scrub at Ditchling Common

Cattle grazing returns to Ditchling Common
Cattle grazing returns to Ditchling Common

Cattle grazing is set to return to Ditchling Common Country Park to safeguard it for the future.

The animals were used successfully last year to control bracken and scrub and will be back in place at the end of April.

The park’s rare grassland habitat has resulted from grazing by commoners’ livestock over the centuries.

Signs will be in place informing visitors of the cattle and requesting dog owners keep their pets under control in the areas where livestock are grazing.

Areas of the common will be grazed in rotation, with large areas left livestock-free to allow for visitors who do not feel confident walking near cattle.

Senior ranger for East Sussex County Council Andy Mitchell said: “Ditchling Common is one of the jewels in the crown of our countryside and it is important its rare habitat is protected.

“The landscape here has been created from grazing over hundreds of years and remains the best way of ensuring it is preserved for future generations to enjoy.”

Grazing is being organised in partnership with Plumpton Agricultural College, using Sussex suckler cattle, which have a more placid temperament than some cattle.

The animals keep bracken and scrub down by eating it and walking over it, improving the environment for wildlife, including rare species which inhabit the site of special scientific interest.

An annual highlight of a visit to the nature reserve, which is just off the B2112 at the edge of the village, is a carpet of bluebells and wood anenomes.

Historically it was commoners’ land which those with commoners’ rights could use to graze their animals.

Birdlife at the nature reserve includes stonechats, linnets, woodpeckers, chiffchaffs, blackcaps and tits.

For more information about Ditchling Common Country Park visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk or call the county council on 01273 482670.