Impact of grazing management on biodiversity of grasslands

  • Published source details Tallowin J., Rook A.J. & Rutter S.M. (2005) Impact of grazing management on biodiversity of grasslands. Animal Science, 81, 193-198.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use traditional breeds of livestock

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

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

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Use traditional breeds of livestock

    A small-scale study over three years on species-poor lowland grassland in the UK (Tallowin et al. 2005) found that at reduced grazing pressure, two cattle breeds created different sward structures and associated invertebrate assemblages (details not provided). Three grazing treatments were studied: commercial breed Charolais × Holstein-Friesian steers at moderate (maintaining 3,000 kg herbage dry matter mass/ha) or lenient (4,500 kg herbage dry matter mass/ha) grazing pressures and North Devon steers (traditional breed) at lenient grazing pressure. Treatments were applied from May to September and grasslands received no fertilizer during the study.

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

    A controlled study from 2000 to 2004 in the UK (Tallowin et al. 2005) found that reduced grazing pressure maintained botanical diversity and abundance, enhanced invertebrate diversity and abundance, but increased pernicious weeds on species-rich grasslands. The cover of positive indicator species of grasslands of high nature conservation value remained stable under lenient grazing pressure (8-10% cover), but decreased under severe (from 9% to 5%) and decreased (from 9% to 5%) but then recovered (8%) under moderate grazing pressures. Competitive grass and legume species increased across all treatments. Abundance and diversity of bumblebee Bombus spp. species was higher under moderate (0.34 individuals counted/minute) and lenient grazing (0.38) than severe grazing pressure (0.15). Spider numbers were also significantly higher under lenient (118 individuals/m²) than severe or moderate grazing (68 individuals/m²). Percentage cover of spear thistle Cirsium vulgare and creeping thistle Cirsium arvense increased under all three grazing pressures, but did not differ between treatments (2000: 0.4-1.0% cover; 2004: 2.9-3.6). Species-rich grasslands were grazed over five years with severe (grass height 6 to 8 cm), moderate (8-10 cm) or lenient (10-12 cm) cattle grazing pressures. A fertilized improved pasture was maintained at 6-8 cm as a control.


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 21

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 ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust