The coastal heathland of North Pembrokeshire is hardly prime agricultural land and without grazing, it would soon become overgrown; bad news for walkers, also for birds such as chough and for several rare plants.
For many years the National Trust has made use of wild ponies to keep the heaths under control but now the focus has switched to grazing by Welsh Blacks. Not only do they do a better job, they also provide valuable food helping to offset the costs of conservation.
Until recently the cattle were overwintered in a number of small barns scattered across the area. But now all over-wintering has been brought under one roof at Southwood Farm; much more efficient and making it feasible to breed and build up the herd.
Traditional field walls ripped up in the drive for greater productivity are being replaced to allow greater management of grazing land, moving cattle in time to avoid turning fields into mud baths. New footpaths are being introduced connecting with the nearby coast path and there are plans to create a bunkhouse. And for bedding the cattle are enjoying the local heather and gorse harvested with a Ryetec Flail Collector to create fire breaks on the heath.
Everyone’s a winner it seems! Here’s Andrew Tuddenham explaining the background and the plans for the future: