Study

Effects of livestock breed and grazing intensity on biodiversity and production in grazing systems. 4. Effects on animal diversity

  • Published source details Wallis De Vries M.F., Parkinson A.E., Dulphy J.P., Sayer M. & Diana E. (2007) Effects of livestock breed and grazing intensity on biodiversity and production in grazing systems. 4. Effects on animal diversity. Grass and Forage Science, 62, 185-197.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use traditional breeds of livestock

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Use traditional breeds of livestock

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Use traditional breeds of livestock

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Reduce grazing intensity

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Reduce intensity of grazing by domestic livestock

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Reduce grazing intensity on grassland (including seasonal removal of livestock)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Use traditional breeds of livestock

    A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2002–2004 on grassland in France, Germany, Italy and the UK (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) found that areas grazed by traditional livestock breeds did not have more European hares Lepus europaeus than did areas grazed by commercial breeds. Too few hares were recorded to enable statistical analyses. At the UK site, where most hares were recorded, numbers were similar between areas grazed by traditional breeds (15 hares) and commercial breeds (14 hares). Traditional cattle breeds were Devon, German Angus and Salers, compared with commercial Charolais × Fresian, Simmental and Charolais, in the UK, Germany and France respectively. In Italy traditional Karst sheep were compared with commercial Finnish Romanovs. There were three traditional breed paddocks and three commercial breed paddocks (paddock size 0.4–3.6 ha) at single sites in each of the four countries. Hares were counted every two weeks in early morning, from May to October of 2002–2004, during seven minutes of observation and by walking a transect in each paddock.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

  2. Use traditional breeds of livestock

    A replicated and controlled trial in four European countries (UK, Germany, France and Italy) from 2002-4 (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) found no differences in bird numbers between areas grazed with traditional breeds of livestock and those grazed by commercial breeds. Birds were counted every two weeks in early morning, from May to October, with a 7 minute observation period and a walking transect. The traditional breeds were Devon, German Angus and Salers, compared with commercial Charolais x Fresian, Simmental and Charolais, in the UK, Germany and France respectively. In Italy traditional Karst sheep were compared with commercial Finnish Romanovs. Animals were monitored in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

     

  3. Use traditional breeds of livestock

    A randomized, replicated study from 2002 to 2004 in France, Germany and the UK (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) (same study as (Scimone et al. 2007)) found using traditional breeds of livestock to graze grasslands had no effect on the numbers of butterflies (Lepidoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), birds, European hares Lepus europaeus, or ground-dwelling arthropods in general, relative to commercial breeds. One insect group (‘other’ beetles (Coleoptera)) were more abundant in pitfall traps under grazing by traditional breeds, at two of the four sites: at the site in Germany this group mainly comprised sap beetles (Nitidulidae). The traditional cattle breeds were Devon, German Angus and Salers, compared with commercial Charolais x Fresian, Simmental and Charolais, in the UK, Germany and France respectively. Each treatment (leniently grazed with traditional or commercial livestock) was replicated three times at each site, in 0.4 to 3.6 ha paddocks. Animals were monitored in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Butterflies were counted once a fortnight from May to September and grasshoppers sampled with a sweep net each month from June to October, on three 50 m-long transects. Birds and hares were counted for seven minutes along a transect, fortnightly from May to October. Ground arthropods were sampled in twelve pitfall traps in each paddock, in spring, summer and early autumn. An additional study site grazed by sheep in Italy was also included in the analysis but is not reported here because it falls outside the geographical range of this synopsis.

     

  4. Reduce grazing intensity

    A replicated, controlled trial in four European countries (UK, Germany, France and Italy) from 2002-4 (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) found that numbers of birds and bird species were not different between fields under low-intensity grazing, compared to intensively-grazed fields. Birds were counted every two weeks in early morning, from May to October in 2002-4, with a 7 minute observation period and a walking transect. Exact grazing regimes differed between countries.

     

  5. Reduce intensity of grazing by domestic livestock

    A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2002–2004 on grassland in France, Germany, Italy and the UK (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) found that areas with low livestock grazing intensities did not have more European hares Lepus europaeus than did areas with moderate livestock grazing intensities. Too few hares were recorded to enable statistical analyses. At the UK site, though, where most hares were recorded, numbers were similar between low intensity (14 hares) and moderate intensity (12 hares) grazing areas. Sites were grazed by the cattle Charolais × Fresian in the UK, Simmental in Germany and Charolais in France and by Finnish Romanov sheep in Italy. Grazing rates differed, but low grazing intensity was 0.3–0.4 fewer animals/ha than moderate grazing intensity. There were three each of low and moderate intensity grazing paddocks (paddock size 0.4–3.6 ha) at one site in each of the four countries. Hares were counted every two weeks in early morning, from May to October, 2002–2004, during seven minutes of observation and whilst walking a transect in each paddock.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

  6. Reduce grazing intensity on grassland (including seasonal removal of livestock)

    A randomized, replicated study from 2002 to 2004 in the UK, Germany and France (Wallis De Vries et al. 2007) (same study as (Scimone et al. 2007)), found more butterflies (Lepidoptera) and grasshoppers (Orthoptera), and more butterfly and grasshopper species under lenient than moderate grazing. There were on average 42-47 vs 31 butterflies, and 10 vs 8 butterfly species/paddock/year under lenient compared to moderate grazing, and 56-60 vs 34 grasshoppers from 5 vs 4 grasshopper species/paddock/year under lenient compared to moderate grazing. Some groups of insects caught in pitfall traps were more abundant under lenient grazing at some, but not all, sites (for example, ground beetles (Carabidae) and rove beetles (Staphylinidae) at the UK site). Numbers of birds, bird species and European hares Lepus europaeus were not different between grazing treatments. Paddocks 0.4 to 3.6 ha in size were either moderately or leniently grazed with a commercial livestock breed, with treatments replicated three times. Actual grazing rates differed according to local conditions, but lenient grazing treatments were 0.3-0.4 fewer animals/ha than the moderate grazing rates. Sites were grazed continuously with cattle. Animals were monitored in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Butterflies were counted once a fortnight from May to September and grasshoppers sampled with a sweep net each month from June to October, on three 50 m-long transects. Birds and European hares were counted fortnightly in the early morning, from May to October, with a 7 minute observation period and a walking transect. Ground arthropods were sampled in twelve pitfall traps at each paddock, in spring, summer and early autumn. An additional study site grazed by sheep in Italy was also included in the analysis but is not reported here because it falls outside the geographical range of this synopsis.

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 18

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.


Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust