GS17: Lenient grazing supplement

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the lenient grazing supplement.

How much is paid

£44 per hectare (ha).

Where to use this supplement

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier

Whole or part parcel

Only on:

This supplement can be rotated between eligible parcels, but the same total area must be maintained each year and once applied to a parcel it must remain on it for at least 3 successive years.

How this supplement will benefit the environment

It provides critical spring and summer invertebrate food needed by species such as yellowhammers.

There should be:

  • plenty of spiders and insects, including larger ones such as grasshoppers and beetles
  • birds, such as yellowhammers, reed buntings and skylarks flying into the field to feed


  • graze during the growing season to maintain a sward:
    • that has an average height of 7cm to 13cm
    • where at least 20% is shorter than 10cm
    • where at least 20% is over 10cm tall
  • on the parcel or part parcel where this option is used one boundary must be a hedgerow and / or there must be scrub within 200m of the option

Do not:

  • cut for hay or silage

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • stock records to show grazing activity on parcels

On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.

You should also be aware that at the start of each claim year, a percentage of agreement holders will be asked to take and submit the following photographic evidence:

  • photographs of the management undertaken

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this supplement

The following section gives advice on how to carry out this supplement successfully, but does not form part of the requirements for the supplement.

Sward height importance

The option is usually used as part of a package to benefit declining farmland birds. It provides the critical spring and summer invertebrate food needed by species such as yellowhammers.

Most invertebrates are much more abundant in taller grass but birds find it difficult to access them if the whole sward is tall. Birds need shorter patches where they can land and check for danger. They can then dart into the taller patches to catch their prey, or wait for them to move to the edge of the tall grass or out into the shorter patches.

Option amount and location

Normally at least 1ha of this option per 100ha of the farm area is needed to provide sufficient invertebrates.

Place the supplement on part parcels next to hedges or scrub for yellowhammers and other buntings. For skylarks it should be placed away from trees, hedges or other tall structures.

Since the target birds do not generally feed more than 300m from their nests, parcels of this option should not be more than 500m apart.

This option will be more effective on grassland including herbs and wildflowers, but it can also be used on grassland with few, if any, herbs or wildflowers.

Checking sward height

If a sward stick is not available, uncompressed sward height can be measured using a ruler, or lines on boots. Ignore stems and seedheads – measure to the top green leaf.

How to achieve the right sward

It is much easier to achieve the correct diverse sward structure by grazing with cattle than by grazing with sheep only, which risks non-compliance with the Requirements.

Grazing can be rotational or intermittent, but the stock should eat the sward down well during the grazing periods to avoid it becoming rank during the rest periods.

Further information

See the Mid Tier manual or Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 10 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2017 applications.
  2. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.