Grazing goats

Blog post by Robert Morgan on 17 Aug, 2020
Norfolk Wildlife Trust recently took loan of nineteen Bagot goats from North Norfolk District Council. This rare breed is being employed at Cranwich Camp, a site managed by NWT (although there is no public access currently).

The former British Army camp is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and forms part of the Breckland’s Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The heath and grassland reserve holds seven red data book species, including the nationally scarce oblique striped moth.
Rabbits help to graze Breckland habitat (photo by Elizabeth Dack)

Rabbits help to graze Breckland habitat (photo by Elizabeth Dack)

Rabbits help to maintain the diverse flora and disturbed ground, however the addition of the Bagot goats will aid the restoration of the heathland areas, helping to develop a more varied structure to the vegetation.

The goats’ hardy nature and ability to forage in rough scrub make them excellent conservation grazing animals. The breed spent many centuries as semi-wild stock so has a nervous character; this also tends to lend itself to conservation work as they are more self-reliant and unlikely to approach people.

They are a unique-looking breed with long hair and distinctive colouring of black forequarters and a white rear, and both sexes have large curving horns. As the animals are ‘organic’ their dung is free from toxins and medication allowing invertebrates such as dung beetles to thrive.

They are also an astonishingly old English breed; records suggest that in 1380 King Richard the second gave a herd to Sir John Bagot the owner of the Blithfield Estate in Staffordshire, where they still appear on the family's coat of arms.

DNA profiling suggests the breed originated in Portugal – however others strongly believe they came to Britain with returning knights from the crusades in North Africa. The main herd roamed freely on the grounds of the Blithfield Hall estate, but others were bred and kept across the Staffordshire area.

Six hundred years of isolation has now made it an important heritage bred, but they very nearly disappeared and at one time were reduced to only a hundred individuals. Now the breed is on the increase and entering another chapter of its long history – for in conjunction with heritage breed cattle, Shetland sheep and Dartmoor ponies, they join an excellent wildlife conservation team on Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserves.
Share this

Latest Blog Posts

The Western Link: What would happen to our wildlife? The Western Link: What woul...
by Mike Jones, NWT Conservation Officer (Planning)  on 08 Aug, 2022
Claylands Meadow Management Claylands Meadow Management
by Helaina Parkinson on 03 Aug, 2022
10 years of the NWT Gallery 10 years of the NWT Gallery
by NWT on 22 Jul, 2022
Tips for birdwatching with your dog Tips for birdwatching with ...
by Izzy Williamson on 09 Jul, 2022
All’s welcome: celebrating LGBTQ+ pride at Norfolk Wildlife Trust All’s welcome: celebrating ...
by Meg Watts on 22 Jun, 2022
Celebrating our patron, Her Majesty The Queen, on her Platinum Jubilee Celebrating our patron, Her...
by Josie Collins on 01 Jun, 2022
Norfolk's Seals: Past, Present and Future Norfolk's Seals: Past, Pres...
by Katy Ellis on 19 May, 2022
Bishop’s Garden Wild project – how did it go? Bishop’s Garden Wild projec...
by Susannah Armstrong on 05 May, 2022
Put your garden to the test! Put your garden to the test!
by The Wildlife Trusts on 21 Apr, 2022
NWT Young People's Photography Competition - See the winners! NWT Young People's Photogra...
by Rachael Murray on 07 Apr, 2022
Getting Wild About Gardens Getting Wild About Gardens
by The Wildlife Trusts on 24 Mar, 2022
A tribute to Peter Lambley MBE, 1946-2022 A tribute to Peter Lambley ...
by Helen Baczkowska on 10 Mar, 2022
Wooing in the Wild Wooing in the Wild
by The Wildlife Trusts on 24 Feb, 2022
Mammal Mysteries Mammal Mysteries
by Darren Tansley on 10 Feb, 2022
A Conservation Work Party at Upton Fen A Conservation Work Party a...
by Jerry Simpson on 27 Jan, 2022
How to Identify Owls How to Identify Owls
by The Wildlife Trusts on 13 Jan, 2022
NWT Recommends: Holiday Reads NWT Recommends: Holiday Reads
by Emily Mildren & Susannah Armstrong (with contributions from several NWT staff!) on 17 Dec, 2021
Broadland Group's Return to Work at Upton Fen Broadland Group's Return to...
by Jerry Simpson on 09 Dec, 2021
The Queerness of Nature: In conversation with James McDermott The Queerness of Nature: In...
by Meg Watts & Molly Bernardin on 02 Dec, 2021
COP26: What's it all about and what do we want to achieve? COP26: What's it all about ...
by Kathryn Brown on 04 Nov, 2021
A New Direction: Starting Small by Creating Norfolk Wetlands A New Direction: Starting S...
by William Walker on 21 Oct, 2021
Broadland Group Moth Night Broadland Group Moth Night
by Jerry Simpson on 07 Oct, 2021
Moth and butterfly survival strategies Moth and butterfly survival...
by The Wildlife Trusts on 23 Sep, 2021
Out for Nature: Reflections on Pride with The Wildlife Trusts LGBTQ+ Employee Network Out for Nature: Reflections...
by Meg Watts on 14 Sep, 2021