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Knettishall Heath goes gruff to help growth

A new tool in the restoration of Knettishall Heath has been deployed this week, with the release of a herd of rare-breed goats.

Around a dozen Bagot billy goats have been brought on to the reserve as part of a two-year trial, in the hope they will play a crucial role in the conservation grazing project at the reserve – enabling rare heathland species to flourish.

The Bagot Goats have been put on the heathland to help its flora and fauna
The Bagot Goats have been put on the heathland to help its flora and fauna

Knettishall Heath is already home to a herd of Exmoor ponies that roam through the 250-acre grazing enclosure.

But while the ponies are excellent at maintaining the open habitats needed for numerous Breckland specialists, the goats will be much more effective in the restored areas.

Charlie McMurray, Knettishall Ranger, said the introduction of the goats would mean there would be less need for mechanical intervention and herbicide use to control scrub.

He said: “We hope that their movements across the reserve will result in even better conditions for the rare Breckland flora and fauna that exist on the heath.”

The goats, which have distinctive long horns, are not considered as ‘flighty’ as domestic goat breeds or sheep, and being a hardy robust animal are very self-sufficient.

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