In my previous Milk Monday post I pointed out that, as consumers, we have choices about how our milk is produced and that there are successful dairy enterprises in the UK that produce milk in a traditional and sustainable way that is kind to cows. I want to point the reader to what this looks like in practice because I believe the vision of slaughter free dairy farming is really compelling. As a step in the right direction we can petition the major supermarkets to prohibit the sale of non-organic milk and then vote with our shopping lists.
For instance, at Bhaktivedanta Manor, near Watford, for the last 36 years, a sustainable and utterly humane model for dairy farming has been pioneered. Ranchor Prime, the author of “Cows and the Earth” talks about what they have recovered in terms of a harmonious relationship between cows and humans on a farm where male calves are not disposed of as useless but grow to be “oxen” and are employed in working the land. The farm is run entirely without slaughter or fossil fuels and calves are kept with their mothers until naturally weaned. All milking is by hand. If this is a viable way of dairy farming, why isn’t everybody doing it?
Further clips from Ahimsa’s YouTube tell some of the stories of individual members of the 50 strong herd at Bhaktivedanta Manor, some of whom were rescued from slaughter at other dairy farms and have gone on to live long and productive lives.
“Amil”, for instance, was due to be destroyed as a calf after a bungled delivery had cut off the blood supply to his brain and left him unable to suckle. With a bit of tenderness and patience he has grown into a healthy 8 year old. Another cow, destined for slaughter because of not producing enough milk, was rescued and went on to earn herself the nickname “Earth Mother” because she would spontaneously come into lactation whenever new calves appeared on the farm, regardless of whether they were hers or not. Now retired at 23 years old, the workers have to keep her away from calves because she still produces.
Because every animal has been treated as an individual, you get a sense of wonder at what they are actually capable of, outside of the grinding slavery of the accepted traditional methods of dairy farming or, even worse, factory farming.
For people who want to buy slaughter-free milk in the UK, milk produced on another slaughter free farm by farmer Keith Jefferson Smith will soon be available from Farmaround. On the Jefferson-Smith family farm in Suffolk, cows are treated as individuals and a variety of compassionate approaches are taken including cows being allowed to live out their entire lives after being retired from production.
I would be excited to hear of other options for the concerned consumer so I can post about them on future Milk Mondays. If anyone with expertise or insight would like to guest post on a Milk Monday, please get in touch.
Filed under: Milk Monday | Tagged: Agriculture, Animal welfare, Dairy, Farming, Food, Lifestyle, Permaculture | 4 Comments »