Post-war most of the uplands in England, with the exception of shooting estates, became overgrazed and overexploited in the quest to increase food production. This trend continued under the EC / EU Common Agricultural Policy where by sheep farmers were paid on a per head kept basis. The resultant landscape was one bereft of the vast range of plants that used to thrive there, with a consequent absence of associated invertebrates and fauna. At Coverhead we have been using sensitive seasonal cattle grazing, optimized sheep numbers and the best of modern active intervention methods to turn back the clock a hundred years and restore the native flora and fauna.
We use various types of cattle, each selected for a specific conservation task including Highlanders, Welsh Blacks, Lings, Stabiliser / Highlander crosses and pure Stabilizers. Sheep numbers are maintained at a level to allow sensitive moorland and moorland fringe grazing using Lleyn, Swaledale and Lleyn / Swaledale crosses.
Most of the cattle and sheep are wintered away at our sister farm near Bedale. Some of the Highlanders and Swaledales are wintered on the hill at Coverhead with minimal supplementary feed.