HEATHER and gorse from Pembrokeshire’s heathlands is on offer to farmers for animal bedding over the winter as a cheaper alternative to straw.

The work to cut the vegetation also improves the structure, quality and biodiversity of the heathland and gives livestock the opportunity to graze previously overgrown areas.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority farm conservation officer Geraint Jones, said: “This is the first time we have offered the material to farmers, although it has been used successfully by the National Trust at Southwood Farm near Newgale, as well as by farmers on the Llyn Peninsula and Anglesey.

“The heathland bedding was recently displayed by Park Authority staff at the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service stand at the Pembrokeshire County Show, with many farmers showing an interest in the idea.

“Although this does not solve the winter bedding issues faced by farmers due to the price of straw, we hope it can be a useful contribution.”

Harvesting the heather and gorse from the heathland also reduces the fuel load and the risk of wildfires. This opportunity ties in with the work the National Park Authority undertakes as one of the partners of the Pembrokeshire Wildlife Group.

The authority cuts fire breaks annually to help graziers burn vegetation safely and in a controlled manner. Cutting this additional vegetation will add to these wildfire defences..

For more information on how you can take advantage of this offer, contact Geraint Jones via GeraintJ@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk or 07967 653482.