Last weekend we saw the return of cattle to the top field at Brickfields, on the edge of Bridge village, where they are overlooked by the affordable housing in Brickfields Close. Villagers will remember that the land was leased out for horse grazing in recent years, but it was so overgrazed and poorly maintained that the whole field became overgrown with ragwort. The horses were malnourished and at risk from poisoning and kept escaping to look for food. As a consequence the lease was not renewed with the owner of the horses.
The fields were then leased out to our local farmer who has restored them to pristine pasture. The sight of cattle in these fields serves as a welcome reminder that Brickfields has always been prime agricultural land and clearly remains so today. We hope their presence finally puts an end to suggestions that because part of the field was once dug up for clay for bricks it is now somehow classified as brownfield land or wasteland waiting to be built on: it is neither.
We understand that the cattle themselves are Simmentals, one of the world’s oldest breeds, which originated in the Simme Valley in Switzerland when small local Swiss cattle were cross-bred with a larger German breed. Simmentals proved very versatile and the breed is now one of the most commonly farmed in the world. In the middle ages their muscle strength and big frame made them a useful draught animal for ploughing and carting but these days they are spared the heavy labour and bred either for beef or dairy production.