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Overgrazing and unsuitable supplementary feeding (GAEC 9)

Key Farm Activities

The aim of these rules is to help protect important habitats that contain natural or semi-natural vegetation by preventing overgrazing and unsuitable supplementary feeding. They apply to you if you keep livestock on natural or semi-natural vegetation.

A. You must not

  1. overgraze1, or allow to be overgrazed, the natural and semi-natural vegetation2 on your holding;
  2. carry out unsuitable supplementary feeding3, except where it is necessary for the purpose of animal welfare during periods of extreme weather conditions.
B. You must
  1. have regard to any notification, of appropriate measures to prevent overgrazing and/or unsuitable supplementary feeding, sent to you on behalf of the Secretary of State;
  2. comply with any written directions, in relation to land subject to overgrazing and/or unsuitable supplementary feeding, sent to you on behalf of the Secretary of State.

Further information

Where damage has been caused by trampling or supplementary feeding in the winter, it should be minimal enough to allow for the vegetation to recover to its original condition through natural regeneration by the end of the next growing season.

The rules of this GAEC standard (GAEC 9) do not apply if a derogation has been granted. Information on under what circumstances RPA can grant derogations can be found in the introduction to this guide. You must apply to RPA in writing for this derogation and wait for written permission before carrying out any work.

Further advice and guidance

Cross compliance advice line: 0845 345 1302
Defra helpline: 08459 33 55 77
Natural England: 0845 600 3078
RPA Customer Service Centre: 0845 603 7777


1 ‘Overgraze’ means grazing land with so many livestock that the growth, quality or diversity of natural or semi-natural vegetation is adversely affected.
2 ‘Natural and semi-natural vegetation’ is defined as self-seeded or self-propagated vegetation characteristic of the area. This land includes but is not restricted to: moorland; unimproved grassland; grazed woodland or forest; heathland; and sand dunes.
3 ‘Unsuitable supplementary feeding’ means providing supplementary feed for livestock in a way that adversely affects the quality or diversity of natural and semi-natural vegetation through trampling or poaching of land by livestock, or by ruts caused by vehicles used to transport feed.

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Page published: 24 December 2010