The Park has its own sheep flock of 220 Beulah ewes. These are managed under a farm business tenancy and supported by grant funding from DEFRA.

Butser Hill is a National Nature Reserve as well as a part of the Country Park and the livestock, both cattle and sheep, are grazed in a way that will maintain and develop the downland habitat and its key species.

Over the last 150 years 98% of Hampshire’s chalk downland has disappeared and this scarce habitat is rarely found in large blocks as on Butser.

The ewes have recently  been moved to the southern or A3 slopes of the Hill so that they can be prepared for lambing.

This takes place off site in April so effectively the flock leaves for a 6 week holiday every year.The ewes and their lambs will return when they are strong enough to cope with the large spaces and relatively poor weather on Butser.

The A3 slopes have in the past been agriculturally improved, having been ploughed up for barley and used for garden turf. Additionally, areas were fertilised as late as the mid 1990s. The steeper slopes of the hill have been protected from this process due to their inacessibility and these areas are acting as mini reserves spreading biodiversity in to the poorer parts. This is a very slow process but one  that can be helped by the right type of grazing.

If the sward is too short then the invertebrate interest will be lost, too long and the delicate chalk flora swamped. One good indicator of this progress is the anthills which are becoming more obvious on the A3 slopes. The Yellow meadow ant and its anthills is inextricably linked to the ecology of many other plants and insects and their spread is a very positive sign (see image below).

The Park staff are supported by a thriving group of volunteers who help with many different wildlife monitoring projects. New members are always welcome. Contact the visitor centre reception for more information on 02392 595040.