|Grazing on the Common|
Midsummer Common has provided grazing for animals since at least the 12th century. Under an 1861 Common Seal of the Borough, the Rights of Common on Midsummer Green or Jesus Green were for geldings, mares and cows from Old May Day to Old Candlemas Day. Similar Rights existed for Butt Green but starting earlier - from Old Lady Day, but in the day time only. In 1923 the Council decided to exclude animals from Jesus Green.
Registration under the Commons Registration Act 1965 says that persons residing, owning or occupying land in the City of Cambridge have the right to graze geldings, mares and cows from 1st April to 30th November in each year to a total of 20 beasts over the whole of the land known as Midsummer Common. The Cambridge City Council Act 1985 allows the Council to prescribe the procedure for the registration of commoners entitled to graze animals, to set the number of grazing animals, and to make a reasonable charge. Cattle have been absent from the Common in some years but a local vet introduced a small herd of rare Red Poll steers in 2007.
The Red Poll is derived from the original cattle of Norfolk and Suffolk - the Norfolk cow was crossed with the Suffolk polled bull. In the first half of the 18th century it was one of the dominant breeds in English dairy farming. It still maintains the dual purpose characteristics which now give the Red Poll such a valuable niche role in today's quality beef production.
The wider picture
Commoners have long had rights to grazing on Cambridge Commons. These rights were registered under the Commons Registration Act 1965 and are shown in the following table:
Under section 6(3) of the same Act, the Council may detain and sell any animal that is found grazing on the common land without its consent (in accordance with section 7 of the Animals Act 1971). These powers give the Council great scope for managing animals on Midsummer Common.