A herd of cattle have completed their training and are now grazing on Hazeley Heath, Hartley Wintney, using pioneering invisible fencing technology.
The cattle all wear collars that are GPS tracked. The boundary line is drawn electronically using satellite technology and when the cows come close to this ‘digital’ boundary the collars emit a sound that causes the animal to turn back, creating an invisible fence line. The devices do not cause any harm or distress.
Cllr David Neighbour, Leader of Hart District Council, said: “This technology has a number of benefits. It saves money as fencing can be costly, not only in its initial set-up but also through its ongoing maintenance. Fencing is also very permanent, whereas this new technology will allow us to create a more targeted grazing regime as we can split compartments and encourage the cows to other areas by slowly moving the boundary line to encourage them to where we need them to be.
“Conservation grazing plays a key role in maintaining rare habitats like heathland. Amongst many other benefits, grazing is a sustainable way of controlling aggressive plant species which would otherwise dominate areas through scrub encroachment. We are proud to be pioneering this technology which we think is the future in balancing wildlife and recreational needs.”
As cattle will not be freely grazing across the whole site, visitors will have the option to avoid the cows completely, allowing free use of other areas for recreational purposes if preferred. Posters onsite even provide a QR code which when scanned allows site users to see exactly where the cows are on the reserve, allowing for complete peace of mind.
The Secretary of State gave consent for this project on 11 April 2018. This project is part-funded by Natural England, developer's contributions and Countryside Stewardship funds.
For more information about the project visit www.hart.gov.uk/hazeley-heath
17 August 2021