Leeds nostalgia: September 1985: Otley Chevin gets its goats

A small herd of Anglo-Saxon mountain goats were grazing on the slopes of Otley Chevin as part of an experiment which was designed to help tree growth.

Ecologist and chief warden Ian Watts, was in charge of the project, which saw eight bagot goats introduced to a stretch of woodland which had been penned off.

He said: “What we want to discover is how trees inside their pen grow in the next year, compared to those outside. Grasses and other vegetation slows tree growth and of course goats graze this. If therefore the trees could be protected from the goats stripping off the bark, there could be a real benefit.”

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The goats, which date back to Anglo-Saxon times, were a rare breed, with only about 40 females in the entire country. The first recorded account of the breed appears in historical documents from 1389, when Sir John Bagot was known to be the keeper of the original herd at Blithfield, his Staffordshire estate in the English Midlands

They were mountain goats, so Otley Chevin was their natural habitat. Ian said two kids had been born since the goats had taken up residence on the Chevin.

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