Cut&Chew | Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire’s Grassland Project

Welcome to Cut&Chew

Welcome to BCN Wildlife Trust’s Cut&Chew Project, which aims to ensure the long-term survival of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire’s permanent grasslands, by promoting good management, restoration and appreciation of them.

Permanent grasslands that are traditionally managed have the highest biodiversity, with a variety of grass species and many wildflowers as well as lots of different insects, small mammals and breeding birds.  Sadly though, they are one of Britain’s most threatened habitats because of the constant threat from, for example, ploughing, fertiliser and herbicide application, inappropriate or no management.  If a grassland is not managed, it can become overtaken by scrub (scrub = woody plants such as hawthorn and blackthorn) and eventually it will revert into woodland.  Therefore, an annual management regime is vital to maintaining and developing these grasslands.  Grasslands are normally managed as either pastures or hay meadows.

Grasslands and garden furniture here.

Here are just a few examples of what is available to you on this website:

  • Register any available grazing land or stock in need of extra grazing, for free, and make a match in your area.
  • Register any baled hay for sale or your animal’s hay requirements, for free, and make a match in your area.
  • Register, for free, your grassland as a potential site for making hay.
  • Peruse the information page and, for example, improve your plant identification skills.
  • Find a local contractor to come and erect fencing in your grassland or get in touch with a local shearer.
  • Find out about the different grassland habitats in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.
  • Be offered a free site visit from a Wildlife Sites Officer if you have an semi-improved or un-improved (species rich) grassland
  • and much more

For more information and general enquiries please contact Laura Downton: Email.
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Tel. 01234 364213 if you are based in Bedfordshire, Jessica Hatchett: Email.
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Tel. 01954 713500 if you are based in Cambridgeshire and Matt Johnson: Email.
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Tel. 01604 774033 if you are based in Northamptonshire

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Success stories

1. Successful match made between a hay meadow in Totternhoe and local horse keeper

Chris and Carole contacted the Wildlife Trust in 2009 as they were  unable to find anyone to cut their 1.47 ha wildflower grassland County Wildlife Site (CWS) meadow for hay.  Laura Downton of the Wildlife Trust was able to find a local horse owner who needed hay for her horses over the winter.

She took 75 small square bales from the field in August 2009 and again in July 2010. The herb rich hay produced from this meadow provided excellent fodder for her horses. The cost of small square bale of hay in 2010 peaked around £6 in Bedfordshire so this local, cost effective source of hay was particularly welcome.

This arrangement is set to continue.  If you are in a similar position with your grassland, please contact us.

2. Local Grant scheme success

The Wildlife Trust was successful in securing funding support for work on three County Wildlife Sites (CWS), thanks to Cambridgeshire’s Biodiversity Partnership Projects Fund.

The aftermath grazing project aims to reinstate aftermath grazing onto 3 CWS (Crimpledean Paddock, the Dene Grassland & Great Eversden Meadow) which although managed sympathetically by their private landowners are still not reaching their full potential due to the lack of aftermath grazing.

By improving infrastructure and removing injurious weeds it is hoped that sites can be effectively grazed. This in turn will improve the quality of grassland and improve the value of meadow produce ensuring long term future management of sites.

For more information visit the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Biodiversity Partnership website

3. Successful chalk grassland recreation project on ex-arable land

A 15 Ha lowland chalk grassland creation project is underway on former arable land by spreading wildflower seeds collected from local Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

15 Ha (38 acres) of former arable land near Barton Le Clay has, for the last five years, been under conversion to a species rich lowland chalk grassland through natural regeneration and sowing locally harvested wildflower seeds.  This project is funded through ‘creation of species rich, semi-natural grassland’ (HK8) option in Higher Level Stewardship (HLS). This option pays £280 per ha of land per year entered into this option (about £4200 paid per year for 10 years for this option alone).

The Wildlife Trust have been responsible for collecting wildflower seeds in August/September for the last four years for the landowner.  The seeds have been collected using an ATV towed brush harvester from Galley and Warden Hills SSSI in Luton and Knocking Hoe SSSI near Pegsdon.  Once the wildflower seeds have been dried, they are taken to Emorsgate Seeds where they are cleaned, sorted and stored until the landowners needs them.

Approximately 39kg of wildflower seeds have been collected over this period, which has covered an area of approximately 8ha (sown at a rate of about 5kg/ha). Some of the species collected so far include small scabious, wild carrot, common knapweed, quaking grass, wild red clover and yellow rattle.

For more information please contact us.

4. Inspiring Meadows Project

Northamptonshire’s most threatened habitat, the wildflower meadow, is the target for The Wildlife Trust’s new Inspiring Meadows project, funded by SITA. The Trust is working with landowners to restore meadows across Northamptonshire, and is offering free wildlife surveys and management advice, as well as funding for practical work, such as fencing, to restore meadow habitats and facilitate long-term management.

68 meadows were surveyed in summer 2011 and the project will work with landowners to help manage and restore these sites, whilst still on the lookout for any more meadows in need of conserving to enter the project.

For more information, or if you own a suitable wildflower meadow, please contact Matt Johnson (Wildlife Sites Officer) on 01604 405285 or
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Chloe Granger

Admin at Cut & Chew
The admin of the Cut and Chew website, and activist for improving the UK grazing landscape.

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