The Morecambe Bay Conservation Grazing Company

We are delighted to be taking part in Agroforestry Open Weekend 2023
Our farm
Red Poll Bulls

Probably the first thing to say is that we don’t really have a farm, but a jigsaw of land parcels (approx 600 ha) of different semi-natural habitats, which include unimproved rough grazing (mostly on limestone), meadow, heath, salt marsh,  fen, reed bed, wood pasture and scrub, located within the area adjoining Morecambe Bay in north west England. The majority of land we graze is leased to us by organisations whose prime remit is conservation, eg Natural England, RSPB, The Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission. Our rather unconventional system of ‘semi-natural’ agroforestry, which is often referred to as wood pasture, has been continuously evolving over the last 30 years, and is providing the basis for a successful Organic- and Pasture for Life-certified livestock operation, based on Red Poll cattle and Easy Care sheep.


When we arrived in the area in the early 1990s, many of the reserves that our cattle now graze had long been abandoned by farmers because they could not sustain sufficient levels of production demanded by an efficient farm business. By the time we had begun to reintroduce livestock grazing to these habitats, many of them were already experiencing a rapid expansion of woodland and scrub. This was due to natural succession, the process by which these woody species are able to colonize open ground by dispersal of seeds and spread of root-suckers, once they had been released from the constraining impact of browsing animals. All these trees and shrubs are native species and most of them are very important ecologically, supporting their own assemblages of smaller plants and animals. Some, like the juniper, are important species, requiring conservation in their own right whilst others like oak, buckthorn and blackthorn are important food sources for particular butterflies like the purple hairstreak, brimstone and brown hairstreak respectively, all species that are regularly recorded on sites that our cattle graze.

The impact of the cattle grazing these areas of wood pasture helps to increase the biodiversity of the woodland, enhances its structure, and checks the rate of woodland succession which would eventually threaten other important habitats. The cattle are also able to benefit from grazing amongst the trees and shrubs, where they are able to seek shelter in rough weather or heatwaves and to access a greater choice of plant nutrients from browsing trees and shrubs. This can help to reduce internal parasites or to mitigate their methane emissions, improving their health and welfare as well as lowering their environmental impact. In fact they are filling much the same niche in this contemporary silvopastoral context as their wild ancestor, the aurochs would have done some 10,000 years ago in the ancient ‘wild wood’, when much of Britain would have been covered in this same kind of habitat mosaic, comprising trees, scrub, heath, fen and pasture.

Many of the woodland areas are being actively managed for production of firewood and coppice products, providing income for two separate businesses alongside our own. The cows must graze and browse their way around the workings of a local coppice co-op, who make hurdles and other useful products from specific areas being opened up for grazing, and a ‘wood bank’ community interest company, who convert thinnings from woodland management to fuel logs for local use. The grazing has therefore to operate at levels that do not eliminate the processes that shape and maintain the fabric of the woodland ecosystem, such as natural regeneration of trees from seed or regeneration of coppiced shrubs. It is a dynamic form of management with few pre-determined rules to guide us in achieving its objectives – but for the cattle it is always a moveable feast.

Red poll cow browsing willow
how to find us

Meet at: Challan Park, Ford Lane, Silverdale, Lancs, LA5 0UH

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SD47471 76635

Silverdale is the nearest train station 1.1miles from Challan Park,+Storrs+Lane,+Silverdale,+Carnforth/54.182976,-2.8065428/@54.1769231,-2.8198466,3491m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m8!4m7!1m5!1m1!1s0x487c9b0ec85ad0b3:0x9edc511bc30380ed!2m2!1d-2.8027641!2d54.1681513!1m0

agroforestry open weekend 2023

Over Agroforestry Open Weekend 2023 we will be open from 13.30 – 18.00 Sat 20th May 2023. We will walk to Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve and talk about the cattle and wood pasture. There will also be a demonstration of charcoal making by Lee Bassett.

Please book in advance

As numbers are limited, please book in advance by 15th May 2023 by email or phone: mobile 07984635587


There are no facilities available on site. Leighton Moss RSPB reserve is 1.3 miles away with cafe and toilet facilities


Parking at Challan Park on hardstanding for 8-10 cars, there is also a large lay-by just outside the Park wall.


Dogs on leads are allowed on some areas of the reserve but not on the wood pasture area.

disability access

Challan Park and the initial part of the walk on to Gait Barrows reserve is suitable for robust wheelchairs and pushchairs – the walk through the wood pasture is not suitable.

more information?

If you are unable to make this event but interested in finding out more about what we do, please get in touch and we will be happy to tell you more.

Bill Grayson mobile 07880718624