1. The objects of this work have been to review as wide a field as possible relating to the practice of out - wintering farm stock in woodlands in order (1) to establish
the actual and /or potential value of woodlands for out - wintering livestock, (2) to explore methods of regeneration
for these woodlands, and (3) to discover the problems
involved in the management of such woodlands.
2. The field work was carried out in two parts, the
first being preparatory to the second. The first consisted
of touring much of Scotland to inspect areas of woodland
being used for out -wintering purposes and obtaining information on this practice. From these sites, six were select
ed for detailed study (comprising the second part of the
field work) for the purpose of investigating the possibilit
of integrating out -wintering with forest management and
suggesting methods of achieving this.
3. It is apparent from touring much of Scotland that
productive, well- managed hardwood and conifer stands, as
well as the semi -productive and unproductive woodlands, are being used for out -wintering farm stock. Of the latter
type, birch and oak are common and it has been found that
,many of the birch areas are in urgent need of regeneration
if a tree cover is to be maintained.
4. It is clear that the out -wintering of cattle is
often an economic necessity, as the provision of buildings
for in- wintering and the purchase and storage of extra food
supplies are expenses beyond the means of most farmers. It
was found that shelter for out -wintering cattle was valuable
and in many cases essential. Shelter for sheep is desirable but not indispensible.
5. The shelter requirements for out -wintering farm
stock have not been clearly defined by the agriculturist,
although there is general agreement that protection from
cold winds and a combination of wind and precipitation is
desirable, and there is some difference of opinion as to
whether over -head shelter or side shelter is preferable.
It is apparent, however, that local climatic conditions will
partly influence this choice for it has been found that in
the generally colder and more rigorous climate of the east
of Scotland, shelter is of prime importance for out- wintering purposes, whereas in the somewhat milder climate of the
west the provision of adequate grazing during the winter
months is more desirable. All gradations between these two
extremes have been encountered.
It is also evident that the intensity of land use
influences this choice. In regions of high fertility,
where land use is intensive, it is uncommon for woodlands t
be accessible to livestock, and only side shelter is available in the lee of fenced plantations and shelterbelts.
6. Woodlands provide valuable alternative wintering
grounds as the arable land can be "rested" during the winter
and this prevents the soil from being poached. Yet there
is a tendency for farmers to regard such woodlands, particularly unmanaged ones, as "waste" ground, with the result
that these areas are commonly overstocked with animals and
the trees suffer accordingly.
7. Although existing tree shelter is considered valuable for out -wintering farm stock, few farmers are prepared
to carry out regeneration. In most cases this is due to a ack of capital for long -term investment. Any surplus
revenue is devoted to improvements which will yield a elatively quick monetary return, such as reseeding hill land
o increase the head of livestock.
8. Woodlands which are easily accessible to man, livestock and machinery are likely to be of most use for out - wintering, but the loss of dung for arable land and increased
fencing costs are disadvantages tending to dissuade farmers
from using them.
9. Field studies have shown that the type of damage
to be expected from allowing livestock into woodlands is
browsing; barking of tree trunks by cattle horns, gnawing
and rubbing; barking of surface tree roots by hooves;
treading in of ditches. On the other hand livestock can be
beneficial in reducing a fire hazard by breaking up and distributing litter and slash and preventing an accumulation of
Damage to soils was not investigated in this study but
there is ample evidence, from a review of the literature,
that it occurs. This important subject will need Considerable attention before recommending or deprecating out - wintering in woodlands. In the meantime, it would be wise
to restrict, as much as possible, the access of livestock to
woodlands and discontinue the present, and generally unnecessary, practice of yearlong use.
10. Observations on the effect of a tree cover on the
quantity of vegetation produced under it suggest that, during the growing season, the canopies of many hardwoods have
as significant an effect as those of conifers in suppressing
ground vegetation. Notable exceptions are larch and birch.
There are also indications that coppice supports a greater
quantity of ground vegetation than high forest. These
observations are broadly similar to results obtained by
workers in other countries but it would be useful to confirm
the present findings by quantitative experiments.
11. Exploratory experiments on the quality of grasses
in woodlands, compared with similar vegetation on open
ground, suggest that there is little significant difference
in chemical composition between the two. This is in agreement with Frangois (1953) and Ovington (1956) but contrary
to results obtained by Guise (1939) and Hawley and Stickel
(1959). Further information on this subject is desirable
with particular reference to the nutrient content of the
grasses during winter and their palatabilities.
12. Regeneration will need protection from livestock,
entailing a reduction in the area available for shelter and
grazing. In small woodlands this reduction will be serious
and a silvicultural system is indicated which involves small
regeneration areas. Larger woodlands can be more easily
sub -divided for regeneration and rotational use, for which
the silvicultural system will probably be selected according
to the intensity of future management.