Creating a deer haven in Wiltshire

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Hi everyone,

Was hoping to get some advice and wisdom on this. I have 150 acres of land in Wiltshire that my family currently farm sheep on. In a few years time I am going to take over it and I want to turn it into a wildlife haven for the roe deer and muntis and also for the wider wildlife (we have the odd skylark and yellowhammer nesting there). I would love any advice on how to encourage deer and wildlife to it and if there is anything to do know to get a headstart. It currently only sustains 4 roe deer at one time.

I have an annotated satellite photo of the land but don't know how to upload a photo. It is 150 acres of rolling large fields. It does lack hedgerows and with the sheep on it there is a lot of large open 'lawn mown' fields'. The only current woodland on it is 1 acre of tall poplars but before lockdown 1.0 we planted a 2 hectare wood in a u shape (my thinking is that roe deer would like the glade in the middle). I have put in a large pond/small lake that gets duck (largely fat ones of the canal that borders the south) and I have slowed the flow in a drainage ditch to encourage wetland animals and hopefully some snipe. I am also planting a wildflower meadow near the new wood to attract insects.

Would love any advice on what roe deer like. If there is any good planting we can do for them, create some habitats, etc.

Many thanks,

Sid
 

Buckaroo8

Well-Known Member
Man, that sounds like an incredible project and I’m sure you’ll have loads of people interested in helping you out with it. All I can say is that the Yanks are way ahead of us here in UK for creating deer habitat and pottering about with the details to encourage the deer. If you get the chance to check out the “Wired to hunt” podcast by Mark Kenyon....they are always on about creating deer habitat (for whitetails mainly) but many of the principles could easily be applied to roe and other species.
There is so much you could do.....food plots, hinge cutting, creating bedding areas, deer corridors etc..
RE: Roe, I would plant lots of willows around your pond and maybe a plot with lots of chicory in it.
Thick bedding and shelter area is as important as quality food, so I’d include some areas of conifers and evergreen shrubbery so that they will be sheltered from the weather.
So many possibilities.
Enjoy.
 

Home Loader

Well-Known Member
Sounds like your on the right track. Get some hedges in to break up the large areas, to give shelter. Given the option I would replace the poplars with broad leaves, poplar are a pain and not a particularly great crop tree. Where possible plant fruiting trees not just apples and pear but crab apples, rowan, horn beams holly trees with fruit or seeds which are a good for source.
Are you going to have to keep the sheep? If so changing the rotation of grazing will help the careful use of electric fencing could give you ungrazed margins.
The options are endless depending on time and wallet size.
 

JMikeyH

Well-Known Member
Check out a series called The Back 40 on youtube. Like Buckaroo says the Americans have this one nailed and The Back 40 documents the steps these guys went through to turn 40 acres into prime deer habitat. Should help illustrate some of the things they went through which you could apply over here
 

243varmint

Well-Known Member
If you want to encourage skylarks one of the main things is make sure you haven't got badgers. They play hovac up here with ground nesting birds and bees.
 

teyhan1

Well-Known Member
Hi everyone,

Was hoping to get some advice and wisdom on this. I have 150 acres of land in Wiltshire that my family currently farm sheep on. In a few years time I am going to take over it and I want to turn it into a wildlife haven for the roe deer and muntis and also for the wider wildlife (we have the odd skylark and yellowhammer nesting there). I would love any advice on how to encourage deer and wildlife to it and if there is anything to do know to get a headstart. It currently only sustains 4 roe deer at one time.

I have an annotated satellite photo of the land but don't know how to upload a photo. It is 150 acres of rolling large fields. It does lack hedgerows and with the sheep on it there is a lot of large open 'lawn mown' fields'. The only current woodland on it is 1 acre of tall poplars but before lockdown 1.0 we planted a 2 hectare wood in a u shape (my thinking is that roe deer would like the glade in the middle). I have put in a large pond/small lake that gets duck (largely fat ones of the canal that borders the south) and I have slowed the flow in a drainage ditch to encourage wetland animals and hopefully some snipe. I am also planting a wildflower meadow near the new wood to attract insects.

Would love any advice on what roe deer like. If there is any good planting we can do for them, create some habitats, etc.

Many thanks,

Sid
Take a look at Dorset.
Lots of hedges with typically small fields. Small ponds in wet areas surrounded by Willows.
A larger native woodland or two.
Avoid stock fencing.
Hedges should be double or treble in width.
Remember to plan in stalking rides that allow stalking i.e. not straight.
Remember that Roe are browsers not grazers. Variety is the key.
 
Thanks team. I had no idea roe loved brambles and willow so much. Will definitely get some willow cuttings along the ditch.

JMikeyH I coincidentally stumbled across Backcountry 40 this eve and watched the first ep. Loved it.

homeloader, I'm hoping to remove the sheep for a few years and then maybe put on a small stocking density of cattle. Thanks for the advice, the new wood we planted was all fruiting or flowering trees. Dogs already accidentally got a rod on a walk through it.

buckaroo, thanks will definitely give that podcast a listen.

Have a good weekend everyone
 

willie_gunn

Well-Known Member
Sid

What a wonderful sounding project!

As has already been said, roe and muntjac are selective browsers, so diversity will be key - bramble, ivy, ferns, grasses, hedgerow planting, deciduous trees, etc. Protect the young trees, though, as roe in particular will love to nip out the growing shoots or use the young trees for brashing.

As @Bandit Country has suggested, meadows and glades will prove attractive. To encourage birds and other mammals put out strips of game cover. There is good reason why pheasant feeders are magnets for roe and muntjac! I would also suggest putting out a couple of mineral licks, which we have seen regularly used by both species - we use these: KNZ Wild Mineral Licks - Hockham Deer Management Group Norfolk Stalking Thetford Forest

A friend of ours (just North of you) installed a flight pond about 20 years ago. It is surrounded by willows, but friends also donated trees including apple, medlar, damson, quince, hawthorn, etc. This has created a lovely spot that attracts not just duck but also a lot of other wildlife owing to the biodiversity. Another friend close by has two ponds and reed beds, that now attract water rail, barn owls, etc. In both cases the ponds also attract deer - the reed beds provide some lovely sheltered spots.

Might I also suggest getting in touch with the British Deer Society, specifically their Deer Officer? I am sure they would be able to offer some useful advice.


Though some here might raise their eyebrows, I'd also suggest reaching out to both the Woodland Trust and your local branches of both the Wildlife Trust (Wiltshire Wildlife Trust) and the Mammal Society (Wiltshire Mammal Portal) for ideas and advice. I am just over the border in Oxfordshire, so in a different area, but have found both groups very useful - if nothing else for visiting their reserves and seeing how they do things.

Not sure where in Wiltshire you are, but you could perhaps also take a look at what people like Helen Browning (Eastbrook farm | Helen Browning's Organics) and the Kindersleys (Reedbed systems | Sheepdrove Organic Farm) have done to encourage biodiversity.

Best of luck with the project - do put out some trail cameras, and also document the project as it progresses. It would be wonderful to have a record of how the wildlife changes over time.
 
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camodog

Well-Known Member
Good Morning Sid.
Some good advice above. I have a similar project I have been working on for almost 55 years ! Begun by myself, as a boy, and my late Father on ground in the North of England, 275 acres to be precise. It is of course always on going, always rewarding and extremely enjoyable ! However, if you wish to have it remain YOUR project and passion, and yours and your family's, then I should avoid involving any 'outside' group, organisation, bat-group or whatever busybody organisation they call themselves. You will rapidly lose control and autonomy. I am not speaking from direct personal experience, but know of others who have ! As I type this I am on my ground and beholden to no one for it. T'is mine to play with, make my own mistakes, I have made one or two, and learn from them, that I have found is part of the enjoyment. Seek advice of course, as you have here, but implement yourself.
My intention is not to vilify the many 'groups' out there who's intentions are always 'well meant', I just think you have a wonderful opportunity there Sid. Enjoy it for yourselves.
Just my thoughts, have fun creating your wildlife haven, as I have !

Kind Regards,

'Camodog'.
 

yorksjt

Well-Known Member
Up here in Yorkshire it has been a bumper year for acorns. Why not collect some and scatter them in fenced off areas and the woods.
 

C.J

Well-Known Member
Grow some of corn in rotation, leave the stubble over winter and reseed with white clover medium term leys.

Leave the headlands grass and plant the odd bit with wild bird mix or game cover.

Some will say only trim hedges every 2/3 years but it depends alot what is in the hedge.

You may be able to trim hedges late February if soil is free draining,especially on the grass field margins.

Control the vermin.
 

sir-lamp-alot

Well-Known Member
Get rid of the sheep, thincken up and replant you hedgrows and watch when your cutting any silage to avoid chopping up any roe fawns, keep good ground cover in the wooded area will all help as far as habitat for the deer go roe love "scrubby" ground. Then ontop keep ontop of predators foxes, crows, magpies ect including the mink that run the kennet and avon cannal but also be aware that the kennet and avon also has a population of bank voles aswell which will help out all the wildlife, and even a single pheasant hopper with some wheat in it will help a massive amount of wildlife including the deer,But also remember that there will be a limit to the amount of deer that your going to get on your ground and with the amount of roe and muntjac we have in wiltshire a small steady selective cull of the deer you have will soon see them replaced by other deer moving in on you
 

Pete6.5

Well-Known Member
Easy I'm lucky to have lots of roe around me (Wiltshire) a local farm got put on a long term setaside scheme 30 years ago and it started at the meadow stage then went to scrub and now looks like a wood. It was holding the most deer at the 15 year ish stage. Which was scrub with small grassy patches.
 

White Hart

Well-Known Member
We put in a series of ponds a number of years ago and planted well around them they have attracted lots of wildlife it was a great project! A good local contact to have are the guys at Bright seeds for deer laws etc and Landford trees for planting in native hedgerows etc Not sure where you are in Wilts, I’m just south of Salisbury when we’re done with this lockdown I can show you what we did?


 

White Hart

Well-Known Member
This guy has some interesting ideas obviously based in American and it’s specifically about Whitetail but his videos are really interesting, this is one on feed plots ;

 

Deermanagement

Well-Known Member
Hi everyone,

Was hoping to get some advice and wisdom on this. I have 150 acres of land in Wiltshire that my family currently farm sheep on. In a few years time I am going to take over it and I want to turn it into a wildlife haven for the roe deer and muntis and also for the wider wildlife (we have the odd skylark and yellowhammer nesting there). I would love any advice on how to encourage deer and wildlife to it and if there is anything to do know to get a headstart. It currently only sustains 4 roe deer at one time.

I have an annotated satellite photo of the land but don't know how to upload a photo. It is 150 acres of rolling large fields. It does lack hedgerows and with the sheep on it there is a lot of large open 'lawn mown' fields'. The only current woodland on it is 1 acre of tall poplars but before lockdown 1.0 we planted a 2 hectare wood in a u shape (my thinking is that roe deer would like the glade in the middle). I have put in a large pond/small lake that gets duck (largely fat ones of the canal that borders the south) and I have slowed the flow in a drainage ditch to encourage wetland animals and hopefully some snipe. I am also planting a wildflower meadow near the new wood to attract insects.

Would love any advice on what roe deer like. If there is any good planting we can do for them, create some habitats, etc.

Many thanks,

Sid
Sid...... if you can do this, you'll be the envy of so many people :evil:

But what a fantastic opportunity if you can do it without the pressure to make the place pay handsome returns. You'll have plenty of offers I'm sure and I will add to them if you can put up a few pictures/google earth images etc. A idea of the topography to see what areas may provide shelter and an idea of what the surrounding area is like and whether it's shot over or left for the wildlife.

Good luck with your plans
 

Cyres

Well-Known Member
IF your planting mixed woodland and hardwoods then grey squirrel control will be very important. Contact your local control group. Organic late cut hay meadows are a must roe love them. Also agree small fields of cereals/beans will also be very good and left fallow over winter is good. The Game convervancy would be a good source of information for your project.

D
 
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