Grazing animals would normally drink from the River Thames and River Churn which skirts North Meadow. By entering the rivers the animals introduce silt into the water. This creates 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 eight pasture pumps. They draw water from the River Churn and remove the need for the grazing animals to enter the rivers.
Court members constructed the timber mounting frames and installed the pumps in 2017. The cost of the pumps was funded by the FWAG Wild project.
Grazing animals operate the pump by pushing the yellow lever back (see picture), when they drink from the reservoir. The pump draws about a litre of water from the river each time the lever is operated.
Cows and horses can use the pumps. Normally seventy head of cattle and up to twenty horses graze North Meadow and eight pasture pumps provide sufficient water for their needs.
The Court is responsible for managing and maintaining the pumps which is vital for the welfare of the animals.
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 available.
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.