The assessment by grazing trial of goose damage to grass

Janet Kear


Grazing trials using captive geese form an important part of the study into the interaction of wild geese and agriculture which is being carried out by the Wildfowl Trust. Experiments have involved mainly winter- and spring-sown cereals (Kear, 1965) since it was the possibility of damage to these crops which most interested the farming community. Grassland trials, in which some of the effects of goose grazing were simulated by clipping plots with garden shears (Kear and Rodger, 1963), indicated that close clipping has no effect on silage yield provided that it is not continued beyond the end of March. Thus it seemed that some loss of herbage during the winter was unimportant. However, a number of farmers' complaints concerned the early grazing of undersown grass soon after harvest when it was claimed that the geese rather than grazing actually pulled up the grass by the roots. During October 1963, therefore, a grazing trial using a captive flock of Pinkfeet and Greylag Geese was run on a young ley at Rosemaund Experimental Husbandry Farm in Herefordshire. The experiment was set up so that the trial contained one grazing treatment and one control and was replicated three times.

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