Goats on a slope return to seaside town for summer grazing
- Credit: Archant
A herd of beloved goats has returned to its 'summer job' grazing the slopes overlooking Cromer beach.
The Bagot goats, who have been wintering in Salthouse, have been 'employed' by North Norfolk District Council since 2016 to keep the vegetation down on the sharp incline on the western side of the Esplanade - a task which would be difficult and expensive to do by machine.
Emily Capps, the council's assistant director for environment and leisure services, said: “We’re all pleased to see the goats return to Cromer and just in time for the arrival of visitors and tourists to the town.
"They have had a long winter in Salthouse and are certainly ready to begin the delicate conservation that’s a technical challenge for humans, but so natural and instinctive to them.
"Their return has been much anticipated, by local residents and by the cliffs which are in need of landscaping.”
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The goats are able to maintain the vegetation and encourage the ecological balance of the cliff, without destroying the local fauna through over-consumption.
The Bagot is believed to be Britain’s oldest breed of goat and unlike most other breeds that favour mountains and uplands it developed in the English lowlands. Bagots are very hardy and easy to tame and have been hugely popular with residents and visitors.
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They have even promoted their own range of 'goats on a slope' branded merchandise which includes tea towels, mugs and key rings, which can be bought from the North Norfolk Visitor Centre off Louden Road.
When the council began the programme there were just eight goats to carry out the task of keeping the cliff habitat under control.
Two came from Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure Park at Lenwade and six of the goats were 'recruited' from Levens Hall in Cumbria.
Now, the herd has grown to more than 20, with many ‘on-loan’ to the National Wildlife Trust, sustainably grazing lands elsewhere in the county.
It is estimated they save around £15,000 a year. The goats have their own merchandise, which helps to fund their upkeep and make the project self-sustainable.