About 6 years ago the Wolvercote Commoners' Committee wanted to reinstate aftermath grazing on one of our parcels of common (Wolvercote Green - 4 acres), but was struggling to find a commercial grazier who would provide the few cattle needed to graze the Green to help get it back into good (haymeadow) condition, so a commoner with cattle rights (who had farming experience but who had never grazed the Common before) took the plunge and bought a couple of Ayrshire calves from North Aston Dairy to graze on Wolvercote Common/Port Meadow and then to put on Wolvercote Green for the aftermath.

To share the workload and to try to resurrect active grazing by commoners, he created the MeadowShare idea, and it has since expanded to 12 households (which gives a good balance of labour v admin and a decent share of meat per household). Not all of those households have grazing rights, but a few of the members have more than enough rights to go round (one of them lives in what was still the old butcher's shop in 1965, so has rights for 20+ head of cattle!).

We usually have between 4 and 8 animals at one time, with a mixture of breeds (currently Ayrshire, Hereford, Dexter and Dexter/Angus cross). We keep the animals for 2 seasons, raising them solely on pasture and the hay we make from either Wolvercote Green or an 8 acre parcel of land called Hook Meadow, which we currently use by kind permission of the land owner. (Hook Meadow borders Wolvercote Common and is dry over the winter, so allows us to overwinter the animals off the Common without the need for transport, so we can continue to manage it all in a low-input way, at a peasant scale).
We have a checking/feeding rota, with most members doing their tasks before work, with the founding member available during the day for any emergencies or extra tasks. We send 2 or 3 animals off to slaughter each November.
The main motivation for most of us is to preserve the active grazing of our commons by commoners, while producing good quality food for our families, not purely as a conservation measure. The conservation benefits are great, of course, and we've seen a fantastic improvement in the state of Wolvercote Green with 6 years of haymaking and aftermath.

You can see some of our animals and the commons here: https://www.facebook.com/WolvercoteMeadowshare andhttps://twitter.com/Meadow_Share

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