Farm livestock and other animals were introduced onto the Auckland Islands during the 19th century. Most were eradicated by the late 20th century, but before then, some goats (Capra aegagrus hircus), rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), cattle (Bos taurus) and pigs (Sus scrofa) that were considered to have unique genetic characteristics were taken to mainland New Zealand with a view to studying and maintaining their particular breeds.
Cattle (Bos taurus) were liberated on 695 ha Enderby Island, the northernmost of the Auckland Island group, in 1894–96, after a previous liberation had died out. After reaching a peak population of c. 100 animals, they established a relatively stable population of 35–60 animals for the latter half of the 20th century. Eradication was mandated in the 1987 Auckland Islands Management Plan, but proposals for eradication were not universally supported due to the interesting traits of this long-isolated population and its adaptation to the subantarctic environment of the island.
Cattle (Bos taurus) were introduced to 11 268 ha Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku in 1902 as part of a short-lived farming venture that was abandoned by 1931. The cattle were left to fend for themselves and a small feral population of 10–20 animals persisted for 53 years. The population was largely limited to a small area (c. 440 ha) of the island noted for its limestone geology. Ecological damage was pronounced with churning of the soil, damage to vegetation and probable impact on seabird nesting.
Making use of existing fences as ready-made exclosures, this study aimed to assess the long-term effects of cattle grazing on forest margins. Results indicated: 1) that cattle browsing and trampling has an impact on vegetation species composition, structure and regeneration; 2) that the effects of a particular grazing regime may take many decades to dissipate; and 3) that the impacts of cattle change with stock intensity. Some plant species appeared to be highly palatable to cattle and only occurred on sites without cattle.