Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
UPDATED in 2013
UL22 Management of enclosed rough grazing for birds
35 points per ha

This mixture of short grass and taller tussocks provides good nesting habitat and shelter for ground-nesting birds


This option is only available on SDA land in parcels of less than 15 ha above the Moorland Line. It can only be used on whole-fields.

This option will benefit breeding birds on smaller moorland enclosures, commonly known as ‘allotments’, ‘intakes’ or ‘newtakes’. It can also help to promote good soil conditions and maintain and strengthen the diverse vegetation mosaics characteristic of upland landscapes.

These are areas of enclosed grazing, of which the majority has not been drained, re-seeded or regularly cultivated. They have received only minimal applications of fertiliser, lime, slag or pesticides and will contain predominantly semi-natural vegetation, usually moorland grasses and rushes, and sometimes rocky and very wet areas. They may also contain small areas of agriculturally improved land.

Wading birds, such as lapwing, snipe, redshank and curlew or other priority species, such as whinchat and grasshopper warbler, must be known to breed on, or in close proximity to, the site. Bird distribution maps can be found at www.natureonthemap.org.uk.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Do not plough, cultivate or re-seed.
  • Do not increase your existing stocking level and limit the daily level of stocking between 1 April and 30 June to a maximum of 0.4 LUs per hectare. This equates with 5 ewes plus lambs at foot or 0.4 beef cow and calf.
  • Do not harrow or roll between 1 April and 30 June.
  • Protect permanently waterlogged wetlands, including peat bogs and other mires, and hillside flushes. Do not install any new land drainage or modify any existing land drainage, or remove any peat or sediment.
  • Leave rocks, scree and mineral spoil in place.
  • Do not apply fertiliser, manure, lime or slag.
  • Do not supplementary feed using silage, but the feeding of haylage is permitted, provided that the plastic is removed from the feeding sites. Do not feed on or next to archaeological features, steep slopes, footpaths or watercourses. Move all feeding sites regularly to minimise damage to vegetation and soils, and take care to avoid damage by vehicles.
  • Take action to contain bracken, rhododendron, common gorse or similar infestation so that they do not spread to new areas of land. Wherever possible, control of bracken should be by mechanical means, but to chemically control bracken, only an approved herbicide may be used and care must be taken not to apply it to other ferns. For common gorse, control should be by cutting or burning in manageable blocks. Control should not take place in the bird-breeding season from 1 April to 31 August. If the land is in a water catchment area or on a Scheduled Monument, you must seek consent from the appropriate authority.
  • Only apply herbicides to spot-treat or weed-wipe for the control of injurious weeds (ie creeping and spear thistles, curled and broad-leaved docks or common ragwort) or invasive non-native species (eg Himalayan balsam, rhododendron or Japanese knotweed).
  • Cut rush-dominated fields each year, but not between 1 April and 31 July. Cut no more than a third of the area of rushes in each field, or a third of the fields if they are small (ie less than 3 ha), in rotation. It may be impractical to cut rushes in the wettest flushes, and therefore these can be left. Cattle trampling may help control these areas.
  • Once cut, if aftermath grazing does not control rushes, a second cut should be carried out within 8 weeks, but not between 1 April and 1 August.
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