Whilst not forming part of the spectrum of “wild” species that lend themselves to the heading “Wildlife”, domestic stock can be an all important factor to take into account when deciding “where to go and what to do for the day’s photography”. Apart from the fact that many Domestics make very photogenic subjects in themselves they are all too often instrumental in determining the nature of the areas in which they live. The grazing of Domestic stock in areas such as the New Forest determines the growth and development of various types of vegetation such as grasses and edible shrubs. The configuration of fields, hedgerows, coppices and set-asides in agricultural areas is often determined by the requirements of the livestock that those fields and surrounds are going to cater for. This, in turn, dictates the variety of Wildlife to which those areas will be suited.
Other than the grazing and accommodating requirements of resident livestock the agricultural regimes of spraying, harvesting, ploughing etc can all have a direct effect, often deleterious, on the suitability of the habitat for wildlife species. Many quite normal farming practices will seem designed to cheat you of photographic opportunities that would have seen your efforts on the centre page of The National Geographic but you have to accept that farming “is here to stay”, although its nature is always subject to on-going changes, and you need to learn to work with and around it as opposed to railing against it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when an early cut of silage can destroy the breeding efforts of Hares, Lapwings and other meadow nesting birds but photographic opportunity can be found in Domestic Livestock areas by photographing some of the more photogenic species themselves. Even for those photographers of a commercial bent this need not be a waste of time as the picture buying public will always have a soft spot for “cute and cuddlies” and images of the young of most species will always tug at the heartstrings.