Heatwave destroys belties’ grazing pastures: Breakneck Hill cows need help

Above: Cows grazing on Breakneck Hill last summer, when grazing conditions were better
(Photo by Paul Bourdon)

Thanks to the brutal weather this summer, the Breakneck Hill Cow Fund is struggling.

Most summers, nature provides the cows with plentiful grazing. Not this summer.

Not only do they have to buy hay for the cows to offset the terrible conditions, a decrease in donations prohibits them from sending out a fundraising mailer.

The fund has asked me to share their plea for help:

While the Nation’s farmers struggle with the heat and tending to their crops and animals, the Breakneck Hill Cow Fund (BHCF), a completely volunteer run non-profit 501(c)3 organization, is no different.

With little rain and temperatures in the 90’s, the usually lush pasture on the Breakneck Hill Conservation land is stagnant and offers little grazing for our beloved herd of Oreo cows.

Summer is the season that the cows graze on the pasture and the BHCF does not need to worry about buying hay, but not this summer. The BHCF has had to buy hay to feed the cows at a time when funds are depleted from the winter.

Donations have dramatically decreased over the past several years and the BHCF does not have the money to do a town wide mailer to request donations.

We are asking the public to please help us feed the cows for this summer and for the upcoming winter.

The Cows need your help!

If you would like to make a donation, you can go to www.southborobelties.org. Or mail a donation to:

PO Box 343
Southborough, MA 01772

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9 years ago

Thank you so much for helping bring this to everyone’s attention! Sometimes I take a drive on Breakneck Hill Road just to pause a minute to enjoy seeing the cows grazing! I want to do my part in helping to keep the cows!

Mark Ford
9 years ago

Good luck with the fundraising! The cows are fun to look at, and are a “nice to have” feature…not a “need to have,” though. Can the size of the herd be reduced to better match the food supply?

Paul Bourdon
9 years ago

Just to clarify, the Breakneck Hill Cow Fund manages the herd so they do not destroy the pasture. We control where and how long the cows graze so as to not strip everything off the pasture. This allows the ground to stay covered which prevents it from drying out and allowing the plants to re-grow and maintain health root systems. We have been feeding them hay this summer so they do not destroy the pasture.

Nicole Basbanes Claire
9 years ago

I just donated….I hope it can help at all!

9 years ago

Let me translate what Paul is saying…Yes, we have too many cows.
It has been a fine growing season for vegetation, lots of sun and rain. Ask any lawn or garden owner.
It appears overgrazing has stripped your pastureland of grasses which, as a result of your “control”, is now teeming with weeds and invasive species. Don’t blame the weather.
It also appears that the wetlands and fragile hydrology on that pastureland have been severely compromised from the grazing. Shouldn’t environmental integrity come before a “nice to have feature”?
I like the cows, BUT their negative environmental impacts (carbon footprint, methane output, soil damage, financial burdens, etc.) are hard to ignore. Cut the herd, and get them out of the wetlands.

Paul Bourdon
9 years ago
Reply to  Carolyn

Carolyn, this is the alternative to high energy input industrial farming. We are actively working on reducing our numbers but it doesn’t happen overnight.

laurie bourdon
9 years ago

Thank you everyone for your donations! The BHCF works diligently to manage the herd and respect the pasture, keep numbers down by selling off cows with the goal of self-sustainability, save the town money by reducing mowing costs, and honoring our agricultural past. We invite anyone interested in volunteering to please contact us. We greatly appreciate the community’s support!

9 years ago

I am not to sure that Paul would need anyone translating for him, I found no problem in understanding what he was saying. Everyone has a choice to either donate or not, I chose to donate as I feel there is true value in keeping this small part of historic Southborough alive and there is true value to my family for the enjoyment we get when we walk and just stop to see the cows. I applaud their efforts and all the hard work that they put into caring for these animals. As far as the all the “rain and sun” I can tell you my lawn is in sad shape from all the heat and lack of an irrigation system so I don’t quite understand that comment. But that is the wonderfulness of living in America, everyone is entitled to their opinion!!

Nancy V
9 years ago

Laurie and Paul, you guys are a class act. Keep up the good work.

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