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Our Beautiful Cow

Farm cow Shirley


If you’ve passed through the farm (or perhaps gone past on the train!) you’ll no doubt have seen our beautiful Shirley. Though she may look sweet and polite, don’t let that fool you. She’s got quite the reputation for sneaking out at night and having a snack in the gardens… and leaving quite a mess in her wake!

Shirley was born in 2010 and has been at the farm since she was 6 months old, so by now she knows all the tricks in the book. She’s very settled into her farm routine, which largely revolves around eating and napping. What a life! She has a very sweet personality and loves to watch the world go by.

Even though Shirley is the only cow at the Farm her mental health is good. “She has a herd, it just happens not to be cows,” says Dr. Klara Saville, veterinarian and KTCF Trustee. Our programme manager, Simone says, “She interacts with the pigs and donkeys daily, and has the sound and sight of the sheep overnight. She is also fussed over incessantly by her human herd who like nothing better than to groom her and scratch her ears at different times throughout the day.”

Shirley and friend Nora


Cows, like many domesticated animals, come in all different shapes and sizes; some are small, some are huge, some have horns and some even have long hair! Shirley is a breed known as an Aberdeen Angus, which is one of the most popular breeds of cattle around the world. The Aberdeen Angus, as you may be able to guess from the name, originates from Aberdeenshire and Angus in northeast Scotland. Due to their stocky build and tough nature, they are one of the most popular breeds for beef production. They come in two colours; red and a beautiful solid black. They’re also a polled breed – which means they don’t have horns.

You might see or hear Shirley referred to as a heifer. As with many domesticated animals, there’s an awful lot of niche vocabulary when it comes to cattle! Babies are known as calves, males are bulls or bullocks, and females are cows or heifers. Heifer is the word used for a female cow that hasn’t had any calves.


Ruminant digestive system


It’s commonly said that cows have four stomachs; whilst their digestive systems is certainly more complicated than ours, that’s not quite true! Cows, along with several other animals on the farm like sheep and goats, are ruminants, meaning they have a very specialised digestive system. Eating grass is actually quite hard work – as you can probably imagine, it’s not the easiest thing to digest. To get around that, their stomach has four different sections; the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. The rumen contains lots of special microorganisms, which help the cows stomach with breaking down the grass and getting all the goodness out of it. Even then, they have to do it twice! If you keep an eye on Shirley after her breakfast, you might see her chewing on something later in the day… she actually regurgitates food from her stomach to digest again. You may have even heard of the phrase before – chewing the cud!

You can book a visit to see Shirley and her friends and find out more interesting cattle facts. We are open daily and entry is free.


COVID-19: Farm Action Plan


Farm logo




As part of the UK’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19, the Farm is now closed to the public. Our staff and volunteer team have to prioritise the day to day care of the animals and gardens, their own and the community’s protection from Covid-19.


Staff are currently split into two teams. Team A is dedicated to looking after the animals onsite and Team B are working really hard from home, developing plans to:

1) ensure the long-term sustainability of the Farm

2) support our community members while confined to “staying indoors”,

Some of our plans are listed below.  We welcome your ideas and suggestions for what else the Farm could do that would help us all in these difficult times.

Please email


Kentish Town City Farm will:

A. Support vulnerable members of our community

  1. Keep in contact with all of our vulnerable service users. A weekly phone call from a friendly staff member to all of our registered adults with assisted needs, therapeutic riders, young farmers and older visitors to ensure they are safe and to organise any help should they need it. If you or anybody else you know needs help please call us on 0207 916 5421 or send an email.
  2. Complement services already established locally and ensure we don’t duplicate work so we can reach as many local residents as possible. Key staff members and trustees have signed up to online resource “Nextdoor” and to QCCA Covid 19 project to help deliver food parcels, collect medication, and walk the dog.


B. Take an innovative approach to implement ways that visitors and service users can still continue to benefit from farm life

  1. Provide daily live “Farmyard” feeds on Instagram.
  2. Signpost parents to good quality online creative & educational tools and resources.


C. Participate in a joint communications and fundraising campaign with City Farms and Community Gardens throughout London to ensure the sustainability of our movement


Our magical farm space is used by many to lessen isolation, and improve mental health and physical well being – aspects of life that local people will need more than ever when we are once again able to open our gates. We can only hope that this crisis will strengthen communities and lead to a greater appreciation of nature, animals and the great outdoors.


Our thanks to Camden Council, funders and third sector organisations for their ongoing support through these challenging times.

Our thoughts are with anyone who is, or whose loved ones are ill, or experiencing symptoms.


Please keep in touch – email, call or contact via social media


t: 0207 916 5421





Warm Regards,

Kentish Town City Farm


Farm animals 1

Farm Animals 2



Orchard Spring Renewal


The Orchard Project at the Farm

Pruning the trees


Recently KTCF hosted The Orchard Project for their 2-day course, Introduction to Orchards and Pruning.

The apple and pear trees in the orchard at KTCF had a much-needed winter prune while they are dormant (the plums and gages must wait until summer to avoid peach leaf curl).

Two of the Farm volunteers joined the Orchard Project students to learn about pruning & fruit trees, possible pests & diseases, and halo pruning of the surrounding trees to let in more light.

We finished by giving the trees a deep mulch of composted manure and wood chip – participants had tea and biscuits, everyone was happy.


Sorting seeds


We are very careful to do this work with respect for the ecology in this quiet part of the Farm using the prunings and cuttings to mulch the fruit trees and making a dead hedge of larger cuttings to make a safe refuge and home for wildlife.


Bee hivesQuiet areas supporting wildlife


This work is part of a wider project to make the farm garden areas more productive, and more accessible to the community. We plan to grow more fruits & veg to harvest, bottle and sell to support the farm.

If you would like to help us improve the gardens, register your interest with Angela at


Look out for further updates on





Related link

The Orchard Project