Cows have taken a lot of stick in the press lately for their contribution to climate change. In reality, things aren’t that simple.
Cows emit methane, yes. They also do an incredible job of cycling nutrients within grassland systems. In fact if managed properly they greatly increase the health of the soil and the grass; while increasing carbon sequestration into the soil. The methane problem is much more significant if cows aren’t fed grass. We are in the process of being accredited as pasture for life. Our cows will only eat grass.
Including cows within a sheep system improves the health and nutrition of the sheep. The improved nutrient cycling gives better quality grass and the parasite load is reduced. This allows us to reduce drug use.
As a breed we have decided to use belted galloways. As a British breed they are accustomed to British weather so can remain outside all year round. As a smaller breed the pressure they exert on the ground is lower and so the risk of soil damage is reduced.
The UK biome evolved with the auroch (the predecessor of the cow). Native species are suited to the existence of the cow, and the cow is best evolved to live here. Our design thinking for the farm is to create as much of a self managing, closed ecosystem as possible. The cow is a requirement of such a system.