Lookering

Our volunteer Lookerers play a key role in looking after the grazing animals that we have on the Steyning Downland Scheme. Do please get in touch if you’re interested in joining the team.

Many years ago, Lookerers were self-employed countrymen who lived out on the Downs for much of the year, looking after the grazing animals of several farms at once. Grizzled, wind-hardened characters by all accounts, they often walked many miles across the open downs, camping wild under the stars. 

Today, lookering is a rather more civilised affair. The Steyning Downland Scheme has an arrangement with a local grazier who loans us a small number of Dexter cattle. They have a crucial role in munching down the grassland, in so doing conserving our ancient chalk grassland habitats. The volunteer Lookerers work in a rota, visiting the Dexters daily to check they are okay and then confirm with our grazier by text.

Dexters are ideal grazing animals for the Steyning Downland. As well as being hardy and able to live outside all year round, they are also extremely docile and unphased by large numbers of walkers. They are browsers (meaning they nibble back invading scrub) as well as being graziers and most important of all, they’re small and cute!

Dexters lounging on the Big Picnic Field

You can find out more about being a volunteer Lookerer by reading our Lookerer guide.

For the really keen, we’ve begun training a team of Superlookerers who can pick up the telltale signs of problems with animal health, long before they become a big issue. You can read the guidance notes for Superlookerers here and here