With over 60ha of coastal grassland our AGAP herd keeps large areas of the island's grasslands rich for wildlife and keep us all entertained when on the move.
A Herd Was Formed
The Alderney Grazing Animals Project (AGAP) was launched in 2003, with the principal aim of maintaining diversity within the species rich dune grassland of the island.
By using traditional grazing the Aldeney Wildlife Trust (AWT) has been able to minimise the need to use large scale machinery to maintain Alderney’s most biologically diverse habitats, especially within its reserves. The cattle also ensure that nutrients taken from the land are returned in the most direct manner, thus helping to promote a wider range of insects that in turn help to pollinate wildflowers and feed the island’s mammals and birds.
Good quality dune grasslands, such as Longis Common, are nationally scarce; and in the UK many are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). The historical grazing of Longis Common ceased after the Second World War. The land was left fallow and consequently succeeded to tall, rank grassland, pocked by patches of dense bracken and bramble. Delicate, threatened plant species, including rarities such as Small Hare’s-ear and Bastard Toadflax, were increasingly shaded out by scrub, and areas of the Common became inaccessible to the public.
Historically the herd was largely made up of juvenile animals which the AWT raised for beef, a very popular bi-product of the AGAP project, which was then used by the AWT to supply burgers etc for its own events. However, this is no longer possible because of the shortage of 'waste' animals from dairy production on Alderney as Kiln Farm now has an incredibly successful dairy/beef herd providing much of the island's needs. Today the AGAP herd consists of a few Guernsey cattle, many of which are barren females loaned from the Kiln Farm Dairy herd, the main Island Farm and only dairy herd.
The success of the AGAP project is monitored regularly through wildflower surveys. Over time these indicate a significant increase in the total coverage of target species, such as thyme, and a reduction of non desirables, such as bracken and bramble.
How to find out more?
We welcome any interest you may have in the herd, whether simply to learn a little more or, we can always hope, to get involved yourself.