Conservation grazing – heritage Dartmoor pony sale or lease

Shaping your landscape

High quality, highly effective conservation grazing for your land

Heritage Dartmoor ponies are skilled land managers. The National Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and RSPB have already worked with us to bring ponies to their reserves.

Why heritage Dartmoor ponies are so good at conservation grazing

Heritage ponies are small and hardy with a calm, well-mannered temperament, making them ideal for conservation grazing. They’re available for sale or lease through our conservation grazing scheme. 

Because cattle, sheep and ponies have different mouths they graze in different ways. Ponies have two sets of incisors, can nibble and bite, and also grind vegetation with their powerful molars. They thrive on a varied diet, are happy outdoors all year, and need little or no supplementary feeding.

Quickly reducing young scrub, seedlings and rank grasses to allow a wider variety of flora to flourish, they stamp on old stems of gorse to make it easier to eat, relishing the young shoots.

They trample the bracken, nibble dense bramble and push into areas other animals won’t go. They even graze the invasive purple Molinia moor grass that cattle and sheep avoid, stopping it from turning the landscape into a straw-coloured, dense place unsuitable for other grazers. The ponies eat the sweeter grass all year round and in winter and early spring, when nourishment is harder to find, they eat the Molinia.

All this activity, along with the ponies’ dung and constant movement, opens up paths to let in more light and allow plants to grow. Even their hoof prints play a role, creating micro pools for ground-level plant colonisation and expansion, and maintaining vital patches of bare earth to support invertebrates and ground-feeding birds.

Because they’re not classed as livestock, heritage Dartmoor ponies come with much less administration around movement and identification. They don’t need to be tested for TB. And under some Agri Agreements, they’re eligible for the Rare Breed Supplementary payment or NBAR.


Our comprehensive conservation grazing service is perfect for those managing land for nature. 

Because our ponies are handled to Conservation Grazing level, day-to-day herd management is safe and easy. We provide training courses for wardens, rangers and volunteers involved in the herd’s daily care and welfare. We’re always delighted to recommend the most suitable stock for your situation and we’ll even deliver the ponies to your grazing site.

To find out more please call 01626 833234 or email

The Results

We’re seeing exciting results from conservation grazing at our Bellever site on Dartmoor. Our heritage Dartmoor ponies have achieved a 31-fold increase in the number of heather seedlings and a 9% reduction in Molinia grass. These days Bellever is one of the most diverse habitats on Dartmoor for wildlife.

  • The ponies have reduced the average height of Molinia tussocks
  • They’ve had a significant effect on the amount of precious bare ground
  • 79% of mature heather plants appeared healthy compared to an average of 43% in non-grazed plots
  • We’ve witnessed the return of 10 red and amber listed bird species
  • We’ve seen an increase in reptiles and amphibians

Read the research

Here’s a link to published research from a Plymouth University 5 year study at the DPHT Bellever site on Dartmoor.

Conservation grazing testimonial

“We have 160 hectares of wet and dry heath and valley mire that will benefit enormously from the structural diversity that the pony grazing will bring. The reserve is currently grazed with our own Flying Flock of sheep and intermittently by a grazier’s cattle but having the ponies resident on the site will help secure the grazing management for the habitat and a range of heath and mire species.

DPHT has been extremely helpful in finding exactly what we were looking for in terms of the number, age range and gender of the ponies. It could’ve been quite a daunting prospect without DPHT’s local knowledge. Having discussed the grazing with them and local keepers and seen the grazing that has been taking place firsthand in Dartmoor we are confident that our new employees will do a fantastic job on the reserve.”

Norfolk Wildlife Trust