A herd of South African Boer goats are helping with conservation grazing at Tophill Low Nature Reserve

A herd of South African Boer goats have been introduced alongside cattle to improve biodiversity at a Yorkshire nature reserve.

The herd of seven Boer goats are helping conservation grazing at the Reserve

The seven goats, named Nibbles, Dodge, Elderflower, Betsy, Lily, Lucy and Lara, are adding to the diversity of livestock at Tophill Low Nature Reserve which will help improve conservation grazing.

With goats having a wide-ranging diet, their feeding behaviour will mean they target the more fibrous vegetation at Tophill, an active Yorkshire Water treatment works near Driffield, which is overlooked by the established herd of Belted Galloway cattle.

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Amy Watsham, a nature reserve warden at Yorkshire Water, said: “Boer goats have a wide dietary range and their evolution makes them perfect for tackling hardier vegetation that other livestock on the site ignore.

“We have more than 16 acres of hay meadows at Tophill Low and it’s important we keep on top of it all.

“The new additions are already having an impact on scrub species like hawthorn, goat willow and brambles and are an environmentally sensitive method of habitat management, which plays a part in achieving our carbon net zero target.”

Boer goats get a lot of their nutrients from bark, which means they are effective at ring barking, a way of slowing down scrub species encroaching into open spaces.

The goats will help maintain open spaces at the nature reserve while safeguarding native wildflower and grass habitats.

The aim is to spread the herd across the grazing area, introducing the goats to different areas of the site to improve biodiversity and reduce the use of fossil fuel-powered equipment.

Owner Charlotte Taylor said: “The goats have settled into life on the scrub quickly, whilst making a good start on those brambles. Nature is a passion of mine and it’s really exciting to be able to play a part in improving the biodiversity on the reserve.”