North Meadow has been managed as Lammas land for hundreds of years, a hay crop is grown from 12th February until July and this is followed by aftermath grazing from Lammas Day 12th August to Candlemas Day on 12th February.
The grazing animals would normally drink from the River Thames and River Churn which surround North Meadow. By entering the rivers the animals introduce silt into the water, creating a water quality problem which damages fish spawning beds resulting in poor fish populations.
To alleviate this problem, in 2017, Natural England and the Court introduced 8 pasture pumps which draw water from the River Churn and remove the need for the grazing animals to enter the rivers. The cost of the pumps was funded by the FWAG Wild project.
The pump is operated by the grazing animal, pushing the yellow lever (see picture) back, when it drinks from the reservoir. The pump draws about a litre of water from the river each time the lever is operated.
The pump can be used by both cows and horses. Normally 70 head of cattle and up to 20 horses graze North Meadow and 8 pasture pumps provide sufficient water for their needs.
It is vital for the welfare of the animals that the pasture pumps are managed and maintained and this is the responsibility of the Court. Court members constructed the timber mounting frames and installed the pumps in 2017. Court members install and remove the pump units at the start and finish of the grazing season to prevent damage from freezing. They also check the pumps daily during the grazing season to ensure the animals always have water.
We are soon to start grazing for the 2019 season and the Court will be re-installing the pasture pumps onto the timber frames later this month.