The Herd on Lynchmere Little Common

Those who walk on Lynchmere Little Common will notice that the cows have been back at work for the last few weeks, catching up on some much needed conservation duties controlling the bramble and birch. They kept close to the water trough during the heatwave, but whilst in amongst the trees they did not seem overly affected by the heat, unlike us!

As you will be aware, last year’s grazing reintroduction was a real success. The Cow Club team worked hard to stay extra vigilant, checking the cows two or three times a day. We were conscious that that over the Christmas period the footfall on the commons reaches its peak.
Although the cows coped very well and there where no problems, we did have to ask quite a lot of people to control their dogs better. As always the majority of dog walkers were responsible but we urge our supporters to let us know if they see any dogs out of control or bothering the cows. We have decided to trial an adjustment to our grazing regime to keep the the cows off the commons over the Christmas holidays and avoid any potential stress to the animals by the increased footfall and large numbers of dogs at that busy period. 

As last year, our system is to keep cows to alternate sides of the road (Lynchmere ‘big’ and ‘small’ commons). Our highly visible signage shows which common is currently being grazed, so that anyone wishing to walk on a common without meeting cows has the option to use the other side. 

Could you be a ‘Cow Looker?’

While the cows are out grazing the commons they are being checked several times daily by our stockman Dave, Gareth our director, myself and Sue. We would really love to get our wonderful members involved with checking on the cows too, especially those who already enjoy walking on the commons and seeing the cows.

We would like to set up a training day for ‘Cow Lookers’. This will be a simple rota of walkers who can learn the basics of checking the cows and what to look out for, and feed back by posting a quick message in a WhatsApp group that we will set up for the purpose. Anyone could do this task after a morning’s session with Dave, and it can be a fun activity for families too.

If you are interested in finding out more, just get in touch and we will let you know some options for dates that we can introduce you to the cows while they are on the Little Common. 
The Bull’s arrival

Keffolds Kinsman – our new bull – arrived on 23rd January to meet our 12 females and get to work. The majority of our girls are starting to get on a bit and haven’t had calves for many years now. This combined with the fact that they didn’t lose any weight in the mild winter makes getting pregnant more difficult. Kinsman was born in May 2019 so is just over three years old now and beginning to look like a real bull. He has a good temperament but will probably get a bit grumpy now that he is in the field with just one cow.

In early June we had the vet round to pregnancy test the cows and were disappointed to discover that only one of the 12 was pregnant, and a further two might just have got pregnant. So we got the cows tested for two diseases which can prevent successful pregnancy (Neaspora and BVD). We were very relieved to get negative results. Kinsman remained with the cows until 10th July when they returned to the common, so hopefully when we test them again in a few months time we will have better news. 

Newcomers to the herd

Because we haven’t bred any calves ourselves over the last three years, we need to build a beef supply and introduce some new cattle into the herd. On the 9th June, five steers and one heifer were delivered to the fields in Lynchmere. It had proven impossible to source Belted Galloways locally, so we ended up buying these cattle from the Danlan herd in Camarthen, South Wales. They set off their home farm at 5am on the Saturday morning to avoid the heat of the day and arrived with us at about 11am.

The Danlan herd has been a closed herd for 10 years, which means that no cattle have been brought into the herd and they use artificial insemination rather than introduce new bulls. This means there is a far less risk of disease.Three steers are owned by the Cow Club, and two steers and a heifer are owned by Gareth. Cow Club has the option to buy the heifer Ethol, if we decide to replace some of the older cows who prove not to be fertile. The cattle will be kept separate from the rest of the herd until they have a second TB test in three months time. They were of course tested before they were allowed to be moved.Currently the new six are a bit timid, but once Dave works his magic, we are confident that they will become easy to handle. Once they have fully settled in and been thoroughly assessed we might possibly let them join the cows on the common next year. They are pictured above in a neat line!In April 2022 Gareth gifted the bull Keffolds Kinsman and the heifer Dawn to cow club. Dawn was born in February 2019 so is three years old, she has been grazing with the herd since March 21, (see photo). Dawn is a very placid animal, so ideal for the common (she is pictured above).Beef 
We still have a few cuts and joints of frozen beef left. If you would like some of this fantastic quality meat please reply to this email and we can let you know what’s available. 

We are planning to send one of our younger heifers off for beef this autumn. She is not likely to be a good breeding cow as she has a minor health issue, and doesn’t have the gold star temperament we look for in our grazing animals. We will be in touch soon with details of how to reserve a beef box. 

Membership Fees
We are currently working on a new way to take membership fees for Cow Club, if you haven’t paid a membership fee this year then please do go ahead and pay using the donate button on our website, we will be sending around specific reminders when the new system takes over as well. 
Thank you so much for reading, and for your continued support. Please do get in touch with any questions. We’d especially love to here from you if you’d like more information about training as a “Cow Looker’.