No kidding around - goats to be used as part of scrubland control scheme

A new habitat management project by NNDC hopes to keep an area of Cromer cliff under control with th

A new habitat management project by NNDC hopes to keep an area of Cromer cliff under control with the introduction of eight Bagot billy goats. - Credit: NNDC

It is an area known for its breathtaking beauty and also has seen its fair share of accidents as walkers, hikers and dogs have all fallen victim to its precarious nature.

Now Cromer cliff tops are to also be part of a new habitat management project will see Britain's oldest breed of goat help with the control of scrubland.

Eight Bagot billy goats will be released into a fenced off area in June, near to the Melbourne Slope, where their grazing will keep unwanted plant species and excessive growth to a minimum.

In the past the cliff area has become overgrown, leading to a problem with litter embedded and snagged in bushes. The Bagot goats graze on rough materials rather than grass and will therefore keep plant growth over the area under control.

Cllr Angie Fitch-Tillett, cabinet member for environmental services, said: 'This is an exciting project we hope the people of Cromer will be able to enjoy two-fold – for the habitat management the goats will offer and the enjoyment of having unusual animals in the town.'

NNDC's Cromer goats have been checked and monitored by a local vet and their welfare will continue to be appraised over their time on Cromer cliff. They will be surrounded by double livestock fencing that will be six foot tall at the bottom of the slope. The fences will be checked twice a day.

People are asked not to feed or touch the goats.

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The habitat grazing project was developed with support from Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the goats arrived with the district council in April. Two came from the Dinosaur Park near Lenwade in Norfolk, and the other six from Levens Hall, Cumbria where they are raised as a semi-feral parkland breed. They have spent the past weeks getting used to one another and settling into their new group.

The goats will be released into the fenced-off area in June and remain until October or November when they will be taken to other NNDC land to graze over the winter. If the goats clear the land too rapidly they will be moved to other land for grazing.

The Bagot goat habitat management project cost £6,000, with £4,800 spent on fencing and £350 on goats.

The initial mechanical clearing of the land cost £15,000 and without the goats would have to be repeated each time the area became overgrown.

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