|We have a beautiful new heifer calf, a brilliant new way to manage membership fees and we are now taking Beef Box orders.|
|New membership system|
Thanks to the hard work of Basil Brooks (cheers dad!) we have set up the membership system on our website. This will save loads of admin and make paying membership fees easier for everyone. Big thanks to our brilliant new membership secretary, Jeanette Bayliss, who has volunteered to be on hand to oversee the new system and answer questions. She can be contacted at cowclubinfo @ gmail.com.
We are now asking everyone to sign up as a Cow Club member if you wish to keep receiving these emails. As a member you will be invited to come along to our events (to be announced soon) and be able to buy beef boxes, or get free mince and braising steak on the collection day. We will hold a summer barbeque and a ‘meet the cows’ day over the summer too.
The cost is now £50 per household as agreed at the AGM.
The membership is now set up to automatically renew after one year and a payment will be taken automatically. This means that once you join, you don’t have to faff about every year. You’ll be notified in advance of your membership renewing and will have a chance to cancel if for any reason you no longer want to be a member. If you don’t join up we may send you a personal reminder to join, so if you definitely don’t want to be a member then please reply to this email and we will remove you from the lists.
There is a separate page called ‘Donations’ on the website. This is for members and non members who want to donate extra for any reason (it’s not how you pay your normal membership anymore). To be honest we aren’t doing very well financially (as discussed at the AGM) so if you do feel that you’d like to make an additional donation then we’d gratefully accept it. If you feel you’d like to pay any of the membership fees missed for the last few years, then equally whatever you feel you’d like to give is brilliant.
In the future we will make the news section of the website and certain web resources available only to members by logging in on the website.
Help with Joining:
To become a member go to the Membership Page and click the link that says If you would like to become a member please follow this link to send us your details and make a secure online payment for the membership fee.
This should take you to the £50 Recurring Annual Membership option, click the subscribe button and you should be asked for your personal details, user name, name, email, password etc., and at the bottom there will be a form to enter your card details. You may be asked to authenticate the payment and then you should get an on screen confirmation and a welcome email.
Please place your beef box orders now by replying to this email if you have not already done so. Dave took the heifer that we decided would go for beef to slaughter and butchery on the 17th. The carcass will be hung for twenty days, so the beef will be ready for collection the week beginning 6th of February. We will let you know the exact day soon.
Please do join as a member on the website before ordering your Beef Box!
As usual the boxes are 5kg in total, with a mix of cuts from prime steak to rolled roasting joints (under 2kg), rib eye, mince and braising. We can also do half boxes.All members can get some mince or stewing steak for free by collecting on the day. As voted for at the AGM the price per box is very slightly higher than before to reflect rising costs and to try to generate more revenue.
PAYMENT: Please pay in advance by Bank Transfer, contact us for the account details.
5kg Box = £95.00
2.5kg Half Box = £55.00
(Boxes contain a full and balanced range of cuts and joints)
Alternatively, you can write a cheque and give it to us on the day, made payable to Lynchmere Community Grazing CIC.
|The New Calf|
Fantastic news that Dawn had her calf on the 6th of January in the barn.
She is a very healthy female (called a heifer calf) and she has a beautiful belt even though her mother Dawn doesn’t. Dawn has been a fantastic mum and there haven’t been any problems. We are going to keep both cow and calf in the barn just while the weather is really cold so that we can feed Dawn more than the other cows in the field.
We haven’t named the calf yet, we will do so at our Summer meeting.
One of our cows ‘Daisy’, has been suffering from arthritis and can’t keep up with the other cows anymore. She’s quite old and so she is up at the barn keeping Dawn and the calf company. At some point we will sell her at market because she isn’t suitable for going on the commons anymore.
The other cows will be going back out onto the commons soon. They have only been kept in because of the cold snap.
|Many thanks everyone and Happy New Year|
The Cow Club Team
COW CLUB AGM – Saturday 19th November
A write up from Sue Beresford:
What a great turnout. As people drifted in, cuppas were made and the fire lit as we chatted and got better acquainted. The meeting started proper at 3.30pm, magnificently chaired by Ed. It was a gratifyingly lively meeting with many people contributing their thoughts and ideas. We are particularly grateful to Peter and Lou Searight from The Lynchmere Society for their input and for the many offers to help with club admin.
Once the meeting came to a close, we tucked into really tasty, build-your-own burgers, beef or mutton (from Hollycombe Home Farm), cooked over the fire. Delicious! And, of course, a drink and more chat. A big thank you to everybody who brought a pud (Beryl’s lemon pud was a delight!) and we hope you will all come again next year.
A special thank you goes out to Ed Jenner for the use of the Rusty Barn at Hollycombe Home Farm (check them out here: https://www.
Meeting minutes can be viewed in our Google Drive folder.
An update from Gareth Hopkins
After approximately five months on the commons, the main herd were taken off on Wednesday 7th December. They have done a good job eating gorse, young birch saplings and brambles.
They are now grazing Roundabouts Field, enjoying some good grass which will be supplemented with some hay as and when required. We took them off the common now to avoid the significant increase in walker numbers over the Christmas holiday period, as this can be stressful for the cows.
In November the vet pregnancy tested the 11 cows, but unfortunately only Dawn – one of our young heifers – is pregnant. She is apparently due to calve in February/March. So if all goes well, we hope to welcome our first calf in over three years. It is unlikely that most of the older cows will get pregnant now, so we will need to consider replacing some of them. Of course the main reason for having the cattle is for conservation and the older cattle are very effective at this.
In the last news letter we let you know that we have bought some new stock from Wales in early July. Three steers for Cow Club and three for my own herd. They had to be kept in quarantine until early November while they awaited a post movement TB test. The test results were negative so the Cow Club’s three young steers have now joined the bull and heifer at the fields next to the barn. These new cattle have settled in well and have got noticeably bigger in the five months they have been with us.
One of our Heifers has had an ongoing health issue (a labial polyp or growth) and also Dave was not entirely happy with her temperament, so we removed her from the common some time ago and she has been keeping the bull company in the fields. The vet was not keen to operate, and because of her temperament we do not want to keep her so we have booked her in to be sent to slaughter in February. We will be taking orders for beef boxes in January.
We are trying to better organise membership and subscriptions to reduce the admin workload, thanks to Jeanette who has come forward to help with membership admin, and also to Cherry for taking time to look into tech solutions. Currently Basil who looks after the website is working on a system that will take payments and look after membership data for us. We are aiming to have this system in place in time for everyone to use it in January. Hopefully it will make things a lot easier going forward and really cement our membership as being at the heart of what we do.
At the AGM we discussed the financial situation of the Cow Club, which honestly is not very good. We talked about a couple of options for the future. One option might be to make the Cow Club part of The Lynchmere Society (TLS), which has a bigger budget than us and has always supported us with the majority of our operational budget. Combining with TLS would mean that our running costs were covered by them, and revenue from memberships and beef sales would go to them too. This could be a really good option as we do not graze other land and are really only concerned with Lynchmere Common’s conservation. It’s possible that it would give us less freedom, but this may not be an issue.
Another option would be to ask TLS for a higher grazing fee (the amount they pay us to graze the commons) to cover the costs of what we are doing (they have already increased our fee from £6000 to £7500 per annum). We could also increase membership and/or membership fees and try to sell more beef. The beef sales are not hugely profitable due to the costs involved – they help, but funding the project mainly from beef sales is not really an easy option regardless of how many cows we buy in for beef. These decisions are very much ongoing and it’s an emergent discussion. We will of course consult members before any further action is taken.
On that note, despite our wish to keep the price per kilo of the beef the same as last year, our brilliant AGM attendees voted for a small increase in line with inflation.
A reminder of why we do this, and why it’s important. Apart from making a grand Sunday roast, sumptuous stew or delicious bolognese, our beef is locally grown and full of all the goodness and trace elements you will ever need!
More detailed info:
Farm Wildlife – Lowland Heath
A map showing local heathlands within the SDNPA if you would like to explore
In the meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
|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.
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’.|
Let me bring you up to date with developments: back in 2019, our membership met and it was agreed that the animals who were involved in the incident would not go back onto public land, and so these animals were promptly sold. We did have cows who were not on the common at the time, and were living separately in the fields. These cows have borne us two more calves since then who have developed well into young heifers, and we are now approaching a trial grazing of Lynchmere Little Common around the middle of January.
Below is more information about the changes that have taken place within the Cow Club and our plans for the new year.
Welcome to our new website. The photos we have used here are from ‘The Remarkable Studio’.
Many of you will be familiar with the work of Peter and Lou Searight who live right on the commons. Peter takes fantastic photos, many of which are of the commons and some lovely ones of our cows.
To see more of these go to: theremarkablestudio.com