Woodland grazing toolbox

Woodland grazing toolbox

5.1.1 Considering likely impact of deer when putting together a managed grazing project

Carrying out an assessment of current herbivore impacts on the woodland before the stock are put into the wood will give you an idea of deer grazing pressure. The assessment should ideally be carried out at both the end of summer and again at the end of winter. This will provide information on when the deer are using the woodland most heavily.

If it is not possible to carry out both assessments then the post-winter assessment will indicate the overall level of impact from deer throughout the year.

If deer impacts are high then the combined impact of stock and deer may be greater than is desirable. Anecdotal evidence indicates that the presence of stock, and especially sheep, will often deter deer from using an area. However, even though the pressure of deer on an area may decrease when stock are introduced, it will not disappear and their likely impact needs to be considered alongside that of the stock.

If deer numbers are high then it may be that some form of deer control will be essential if the objectives of the managed grazing project are to be met.

Culling deer over a small area is rarely successful at reducing impacts unless the deer are also being culled in the surrounding areas. In fact, culling on a small area may have no effect at all on deer impacts. In some cases, therefore, a managed grazing project may only be successful if the woodland concerned is part of a larger area over which deer are being successfully controlled.

Other approaches to protecting trees from deer, making trees less attractive to deer and reducing the significance of deer damage to trees are described in the document Protecting Trees from Deer (link to a PDF). Most of these approaches are equally applicable to other large herbivores.