One of King’s College’s three cows sadly died earlier this week.

The cows, which graze on the field on the King’s College Backs have become a much-loved aspect of the College’s beautiful landscape.

The cow, who was expecting to give birth to a calf imminently, died on Monday after an infection set in. Unfortunately, the calf was stillborn.

One student at King’s College told Varsity, “It was startling to hear. Our cows are normally healthy so this was very unexpected. I feel guilty now as the cow’s bellowing in the days before she died was really starting to annoy me.”

The relationship between the College and their cows has not always been as sympathetic. According to unconfirmed rumours at King’s College, the cows have, on occasion, found their way onto the College Formal Hall menu.

The now depleted herd of cows does not in fact belong to the College but to a local farmer who rents the field.

This arrangement is in keeping with the College’s philosophy of balancing the amenity of the Backs with its practical value. In the 19th century, sheep were used to keep the grass of the Back Lawn in good condition but the Fellows had to have somewhere to graze their horses.  “Today the cows carry out a similar function in a rather more decorous manner,” King’s College’s website tells visitors.

The main function and origin of King’s field on the Backs is, however, disputed.
One theory maintains that the field was an important aesthetic aspect of the College’s landscape design: the field, when viewed from a particular window in King’s Senior Common room, is meant to look like a Dutch painting.

Another hypothesis is that the College grazed cattle on the area for so many months of the year to deny St. John’s College, who apparently owned the land, permission to build accommodation on it.

King’s students have expressed sorrow at the loss of the cow. The loss will be keenly felt by all who appreciate their presence on the Backs.