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Author Topic: Rewilding / biodiversity alongside livestock  (Read 614 times)


  • Joined Mar 2021
  • Perth & Kinross
Rewilding / biodiversity alongside livestock
« on: May 22, 2022, 01:15:50 pm »
Hi all (posted this in land management too so apologies if you come across it twice)

We have 14 acres in central Scotland, which is split into 2 pastures. Along one side of one and the bottom of both is woodland (actually a steep gorge with a river running through it), and a well-established hedge with several large trees splits the two pastures. The pastures are basically grass with daisies and docks and a bit of clover. 

What we're interested in doing is overseeding the pasture to create more biodiversity, and I've been doing some reading about wildflowers and also chicory, plantain, willow, and comfrey.

We are also considering splitting the pastures into smaller sections, and putting in more hedging (and some trees) as wildlife corridors (with fencing as well). We'd also like to put in a natural pond (or a few smaller ponds), and an orchard.

At the moment we don't have any livestock bar some chickens, but do have some sheep coming. We're also considering some other livestock as well (goats, cattle, pigs). However - the land won't be overstocked (we'll be understocking) as we're aware of it being a fine balance between grazing being beneficial or harmful.

Anyway - what I would really like is to 'buddy up' with someone or a few people who have done similar, even if you've only done eg a pond or wildflowers and not both, because it all seems a bit overwhelming and I'd really like someone to chat to me (and in a perfect world show me) what you've done and how you went about it.

As I said, we're in central Scotland but happy to travel north / south / east / west for an hour or so. If you're nowhere near me, then maybe messaging / video call would work too.

Thanks in advance!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 01:19:51 pm by Sherlock2207 »

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Rewilding / biodiversity alongside livestock
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2022, 05:28:14 pm »
Hello from Angus. I am doing permaculture training and have a background in ecology and live on a farm, Iíll throw you some questions.
 It would be good if you could pinpoint your goals. I find questions help us to decide our goals.

It sounds like increasing biodiversity and ecological neiches is one important goal.
Good that youíre thinking pond/s
Are these also for fishing/boating/swimming/irrigation/ducks/geese? Or just wildlife? Specific species you want in your ponds?
Do you have natural water on the land that you can utilise, springs, streams, drains? By hand or getting a digger in?

How long have you been on the land?- many fields look pretty boring but ungrazed for a season may throw up lots of other species over the summer that arenít very visible in a spring survey. Over sowing good pasture is rarely very effective at establishing wild flowers. They tend to get out competed by the established grasses within a couple of years. You may need to look into removing a few hay crops to reduce the nitrogen and nutriants before trying to establish wild flowers (they do better in poor soil). You could try raising seed and plant plugs with a bit of TLC and mulching till theyíre established and then they may hang on in there and can be a supply of seed in the future.

Why are you getting animals? -to manage the grass/vegetation,
to help soil and create neiches, for meat, to make money, to be self sufficient, to continue the herritage, make friends, rare breeds?

How sustainable/self sufficient do you want to be? -do you want to harvest your own hay or are you happy to buy in hay, other live stock fodder and concentrates? Is the orchard for you or enough trees to sell fruit to other people?

Whatís your land like? Soil sampling (visual may be as good as sending samples away), there are some good YouTube tutorials -dig a spade cubes and follow tutorial to look at worms, drainage, depth, etc. Whatís your wind like? Are the new hedges to increase shelter for the land, stock, wildlife and soil?

Money? are you hoping to make money from it?-could get grant for planting trees and managing trees and the carbon they capture. Grants for hedgerows.
How much money do you want to throw at it? Willow for basketry is in great demand and short supply. It can be grown cheaply. Planting an orchard  of top fruits for example is more expensive than rooting willow from rods (bought in or clipped from other peoples trees). But youíll harvest it at lower intervals than your top fruit once established. Obviously different management and harvesting considerations. Are you happy to buy in trees/seed or are you keen to preserve local genetics, tearing plants yourself?

Exit? Land covered in eg, basketry willow, a network of wetlands and divided up by multiple hedgerows might be less attractive to future purchasers than neat, large, efficient grazing pasture.

Usually people want to become more self sufficient and produce food for themselves, how much of a goal is this for you? (You canít eat willow but hazel, oak, elder, top fruit and berries produce food for you and food/habitat for wildlife.

Are there species your neighbours have that you think are absent from your land youíd like? Whatís the neighbouring land like? -if youíre next door to a woodland or moorland, probably better to create something else rather than extend this by a tiny bit more.

Maybe thatíll be useful for discussion? Martin Crawford has an excellent book on Food Forests, also details shelter and many aspects of tree/hedge/forest/garden design. Which might be useful to have a read of.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 05:41:05 pm by Steph Hen »


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Rewilding / biodiversity alongside livestock
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2022, 11:55:57 pm »
Hi @Sherlock2207 
We are a bit south of you near Biggar and have been trying to do stuff for wildlife, biodiversity etc at our own pace for the 27 years we've been here. You can see some of what we've done on our website but the wildlife aspect hasn't been updated for ages.
We have about 9 acres which was purely pasture, with sheep mesh fencing when we first came here. We've planted lots of hedges (all the way round), a small copse, a small coppice, a wildlife strip which we expand from time to time. We keep sheep but from this year we shall not be lambing again so more land will be for trees and flowers. Our pastures originally had no wildflowers in but now the occasional orchid pops up and some other common plants, but not the sudden blossoming we had hoped for. We have never used chemicals except anti flystrike for sheep and a gentle wormer. We grow our own veg, fruit and herbs and have a garden designed for wildlife, single flowers, seedheads left all winter, plenty of sites for nesting both in the garden and in the hedges, including 36 nest boxes.
We tried planting wild flowers along with a new tree area, using plugs. The first year we had some flowers but it's not looking too promising this year - 1 fritillary, 2 ladies smock, some purple loosestrife, king cups and cowslips out of about 500 plugs.  We have had better luck with woodland plants such as primroses, snowdrops and bluebells in established woodland areas. Seeds just don't work unless you start them off in pots and grow them on before planting out. Our ground is just too rich so flowers are pushed out by grasses.  What we don't want is a generic 'wildflower meadow' as pushed by the TV. We want to promote local flowers and plants which should be growing here but aren't as it's a traditional farming area with no hedges and loads of chemicals.  We do have lots of flowering trees, natives, which provide a lot for wildlife and some fruit for us.
We have a couple of ponds, but one is for the geese so is no good for wildlife and the other has fish in so they predate some of the aquatic wildlife that does appear. We have thought about a proper wildlife pond in a damp area but that would depend totally on if we could face the work involved  ::)
We are suffering now with too many plans and stuff to do and not enough energy, but we plod on and adapt our plans as we go. 
How to manage our hedgerows is a perennial problem. We want them high and shrubby but we only have small equipment (Siromer with wobbly cutter bar) when what we really need is a big tractor with discs to cut woody stems high up.  All this is relevant but usually missed when you first set up. We did try laying a stretch of hedge but Mr F ended up with hedge cutter's elbow and couldn't manage the rest  :D

You are welcome to pop down and see what we have (choose a sunny day - it's draughty up here) if this sounds something like you want to do.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Rewilding / biodiversity alongside livestock
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2022, 03:32:24 pm »
Can I ask a simple question please?

Are all these purely for the enjoyment of your own land, or would you be opening them in something similar to the Scottish Open Gardens Scheme?

I can see them raising valuable funds for charity, but also for offering valuable knowledge to members of the general public who might want to do something similar with their gardens
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age



Started by mikethesmallholder (10.53)

Replies: 6
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Last post July 13, 2012, 11:49:18 am
by mikethesmallholder

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