Bristol’s grazing goats take on a new job

This week will see the arrival of a small herd of goats who are moving into their new home at Hengrove Mounds and there will be a chance to say “hello” at a Meet and Greet session this Saturday, 25 March.  

We are thrilled to welcome these furry, four legged grazers on site as part of a partnership project between urban goat farming collective Street Goat and Avon Wildlife Trust’s My Wild City.

My Wild City, working with Bristol City Council, focusses on eight Local Wildlife Sites across the city, including Hengrove Mounds and Hawkfield Meadow. These wildlife havens will see improvements for nature and visitors, and help reconnect communities with the nature on their doorsteps.

My wild city map poster. There is a map of Bristol with 8 locations highlighted. Text on the left reads: Hengrove Mounds and Hawkfield Meadow, Hengrove mounds is a hidden gem nearby the popular Hengrove playpark. Continue around the path and youll discover a wildlife haven that has developed over an old landfill site. The naked doughnut shape of the mounds provides a circular walk amongst wildflowers and scrub that provides a circular walk amongst wildflowers and earth that provides a habitat for many butterflies, bees and insects. Hawkfield Meadow is a valuable patch of rensant countryside home to rare bees and many butterflies. Location Hengrove Mounds - 

On the right of the image text reads: The Northern Slopes are made up as three great spaces near to Knowle and Bedminster in South Bristol. Welcome Vale and Glyn Bale are designated local nature reserves home to many species of birds, slow worms, badgers and hedgehogs. There are wildflower meadows and woods with streams to explore. and if you make it to the top, beautiful views over |Bristol to the suspension bridge.

Why are the goats at Hengrove Mounds?

Without grazing animals, grassland habitats like the Mounds become overgrown with brambles and trees. As the goats munch away, they are encouraging a greater biodiversity of wildflowers to grow through in the late spring. Goats are excellent at tackling brambles and scrubland. The way they browse, not eating right to the ground, leaves a mosaic of vegetation, providing perfect over winter protection for a range of insects and small mammals. They also live happily with foxes, badgers, and deer, and are quite light on their cloven hooves so don’t trample much underfoot.

Bristol City Council, with the help of Street Goat and the local community, maintain wildlife areas like Hengrove Mounds for the benefit of its wild (and human!) visitors through natural methods. 

Bristol's grazing goats are pictured as a group in Purdown, there is a tv tower and trees in thebackground.

We’ve seen the benefits of having grazing goats as part of our strategy for managing our green spaces for nature  with the goats currently at the Gun Battery in Stoke Park Estate. They’ve been successfully maintaining this area for the last 3 years each spring, increasing the numbers and diversity of flora and fauna found there.

In a recent survey by Street Goat Most residents commented on about how the goats brought the local community together, noting that they chatted to people they otherwise would not have. Children encouraged parents and carers out to see them, both learning about the care of animals and the landscape around them.

Ian Barrett, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust who worked with us to set up the Wild City Project says,  “Grazing animals, like Street Goat’s goats, are brilliant at maintaining scrub and grassland areas in a way which promotes biodiversity and allows wildflowers to thrive. This will support the incredible species which call Hengrove Mounds their home, such as the nationally scarce carrot mining bee.”

Looking after the goats

Our Hengrove Mounds goat herd will be cared for by Street Goat volunteer goat herders (they need more volunteers so if you are interested- apply here) who will be on site regularly to check on them. The goats have shelter and water provided for them. If you have any concerns about their welfare, there are telephone numbers on site you can call.

Saying hello to the goats

The goats are there to do an important job but we are keen for visitors to learn about how they help to improve our green spaces in an ecologically sound way and so you are welcome to walk through the fenced enclosure, just make sure any dogs are on short leads and shut gates behind you, just like for the goats along the Avon Gorge. Please don’t feed the goats as we want to make sure they are peckish enough to nibble on the brambles and saplings!

You can follow the progress of these and other Street Goats across Bristol on Street Goats Facebook page.