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Cattle Factory Farming

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Britain's first cattle factory plans unveiled.

facts and figures:

- 8.100 cows on site.

- animals to live in 19ft steel bays and stand/sleep on deep sand.

- 420.000+ pints of milk taken away each day.

- farm would have a maternity shed ,hospital, and a visitor's centre.

- slurry taken away 3 times daily.

- a 2MW anaerobic digester would generate power from the slurry,

enough to power 2.000 homes.

- there will be 85 staff+24hr vet.

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Its a quite build this and a cost of £50M.

is this the future of cattle farming? i would prefer the way it is now. The picture in paper of cows in a large circle rigged up to a milker, but how long are they their for? do they get a roam around the fields? from the plan it shows in the paper theirs no fields!

i want to see cows in fields not stuck in factorys.

is there not enough milk? why is this needed? maybe the shops should let the farmers have more %£

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There was some goofy article in one of the papers said they are in the milking parlour for 23 hours a day.

This is just a silly mis-comprehension by the reporter - the parlour runs most of the time but no individual cow will be in it more than 10 minutes.

They actually like coming in to be milked, it's the highlight of their day.

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Nocton Dairies who are proposing this vast milk production unit made their first application earlier this year, it was withdrawn after local opposition to the plans - based on local impact, infrastructure, access etc. They've now re-opened public consultation and submitted new plans.

There's been wide opposition to these plans (rightly so IMO) from an animal welfare perspective, with serious concerns raised by animal welfare societies.

Although cows won't be in the milking parlour all the time, when in milk production they will be housed indoors; only those not producing milk will have access to pasture grazing. That sounds fine and dandy except milking cows are rarely out of milk, they're put in calf before milk runs dry, so in reality they're always in production (just not optimum production all the time). Dry cows allowed to graze are simply biding time until slaughter, no profitable farm keeps unproductive animals for longer than absolutely necessary.

Here's some info about the plans, animal welfare concerns and the dairy involved.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-10891345

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/8616002.stm

http://www.ciwf.org.uk/news/beef_and_dairy_farming/nocton_dairy_summary_of_key_arguments.aspx

http://www.macla.co.uk/newsmag/2010/08/nocton-dairy-application-prese.html

http://noctondairies.co.uk/

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Probably being the only dairy farmer here (about 50 cows!) means I actually know about the subject unlike most of the experts.

There's nothing new about cows staying indoors when in full milk and it's important to understand that this does not really compromise welfare in a well designed unit.

They really don't do that well walking considerable distances on muddy tracks to grazing, and then being plagued with flies for half the year too. Ours go out but practically fight each other to rush in to get to a nice bale of silage then a relaxing milking session in the parlour.

People tend to think cows have human desires and must want to wander in flowery meadows all day but mainly they just like to eat, sleep and lie down cudding - they can do these things very well in a modern large unit and will not be in anyway 'unhappy'.

There is a real problem with inadequate prices to the farmer, we are currently getting less than 20p per litre, but if it's costed properly we need 25p to break even and more to properly reinvest and keep things to good standards.

The inevitable consequence is that almost all the smaller herds like ours are disappearing and I really don't see a way to stop it frankly.

Incidentally I was looking through old accounts a few days ago and was a bit shocked to see my parents were getting 23p/litre in 1985.

Needless to say most of the things we have to buy to keep things running smoothly have not gone down by 20% in the intervening years.

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Probably being the only dairy farmer here (about 50 cows!) means I actually know about the subject unlike most of the experts.

Great post! Well said.

These days the shopper has a choice, with milk probably more than any other product. If you don't like milk raised by thes methods, don't buy it. But as 4wd has said, this is not much different from how a lot of milk is aleady produced, it's just the scale of the operation which is different.

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Dry cows allowed to graze are simply biding time until slaughter,

Here's another partial mis-understanding, cows have a dry period every year for about two months, then they calve again and come back in milk.

I'd expect they might go out for more than two months in reality because the production declines considerably towards the end of the lactation - and they might only be milked once daily for the last weeks.

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Well the cows I see look very happy in fields. Makes you wonder how they ever survived all the flies. It would be interesting too see what the cows would do if they could simply walk out when they wanted.

I suppose the same arguments are made about chicken battery farming. The chickens are happy while chucking the diseased dead ones into the skip.

Anyway I don't talk cowese or chickenese so I can ask what they're feeling.

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What if a more intelligent species used us like we use animals?

Treating creatures with respect, is important. To most animals - human beings are nothing more than nazis.

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What if a more intelligent species used us like we use animals?

Treating creatures with respect, is important. To most animals - human beings are nothing more than nazis.

That's entirely irrelevant.

If you think the cows aren't treated well you are wrong.

That's not to say giant units are a good thing, but using welfare arguments against them is not valid.

In all probability a large unit which can have a vet and several staff members on site 24/7 will do far better on any welfare assessments than my few cows up a hillside near the moors.

The real issues with such a set up will be logistical, a very very large amount of feed will have to be brought in by road, a similar volume of 'waste products' :closedeyes: will have to be disposed of.

It's significant that due to the scale of the proposal methane powered electricity generation is included in the plans.

So that sounds like what the greenies want too.

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That's entirely irrelevant.

If you think the cows aren't treated well you are wrong.

That's not to say giant units are a good thing, but using welfare arguments against them is not valid.

In all probability a large unit which can have a vet and several staff members on site 24/7 will do far better on any welfare assessments than my few cows up a hillside near the moors.

The real issues with such a set up will be logistical, a very very large amount of feed will have to be brought in by road, a similar volume of 'waste products' <_< will have to be disposed of.

It's significant that due to the scale of the proposal methane powered electricity generation is included in the plans.

So that sounds like what the greenies want too.

You seen the film "Earthlings"?

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6361872964130308142#

Having said that....I'm sure farmers like you are an exception to the rule, no?

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Being a dairy farmers' daughter I'm not prone to attributing human feelings to cows nor do I expect them to be tip toeing through a flowery meadow all year round. However, being a farmers' daughter, I also appreciate the potential problems associated with housing thousands of cattle all year round - not least, the spread of disease. Personally, I don't want my milk to come from cows fed large volumes of antibiotics, which I foresee as being an inevitable consequence of trying to keep a vast herd disease free.

From an animal welfare perspective, a healthy, happy herd is utterly dependant upon good stockmanship - it concerns me that such large numbers of cattle will not receive an adequate level of attention to ensure that all is well. A farmer milking a herd of 100 cows twice a day knows his cows, he knows when something is wrong, he is very familiar with all individuals - can the same be said if 8000 are milked by many different people?

The NFU have launched the The Dairy Cow Welfare strategy in conjunction with the British Veterinary Association, DairyCo, Holstein UK, the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, the British Cattle Veterinary Association and the Cattle Health and Welfare Group. High on the list are The five freedoms, which have been widely integrated into UK and EU legislation and farm assurance schemes and have gained recognition and legislative inclusion outside the EU. These are:

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour;

2. Freedom from discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area;

3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment;

4. Freedom to express normal behaviour – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals’ own kind;

5. Freedom from fear and distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

Freedom to express normal behaviour surely must include the right to graze on pasture and not just the month or so prior to calving?

http://www.nfuonline.com/Your-sector/Dairy/News/Strategy-puts-cow-welfare-in-spotlight/

The Farm and Animal Welfare Council have produced a report on the welfare of dairy cattle, it has this to say about all year housing:

120. There is renewed interest in housing dairy cows throughout the year, where conserved feed and/or zero grazed forages are offered throughout. Cows may have access to an outdoor loafing area which may be a field but no attempt is made to provide grass for grazing.

121. The system was adopted on some farms in the UK in the late 1970s and early 1980s, based on the success of similar systems in North America and Israel. However, uptake was limited because of increased costs, additional demands on labour and equipment and the introduction of milk quotas. Both trial and practical experience abroad indicated no significant additional health problems, although lameness and environmental mastitis were shown to be higher in an ADAS study 3 under UK conditions.

3. Marsh, S P (1982). Storage Feeding of Dairy Cattle.

122. With increasing yields per cow and increased genetic potential for higher milk output, there are instances when grazing alone cannot satisfy the cows' requirements. All-year housing and feeding is therefore again being used by some farmers who maintain that it allows for more controlled nutrient intake and improved cow observation. However, it is questionable if this system allows cows to exhibit normal behaviour. We are not aware of any research into the effects on cow welfare and would like to see this undertaken to determine whether this type of husbandry is acceptable from an animal welfare viewpoint.

Recommendations

123. When cows are housed throughout the year, it is imperative that housing design, maintenance, nutrition and stockmanship are of the highest standard to ensure that health and welfare are safeguarded.

124. Free access must be provided to an exercise field adjacent to the housing area.

125. A study of behavioural needs of cows under systems of all-year housing is needed to assess the effects on their welfare.

http://www.fawc.org.uk/reports/dairycow/dcowrtoc.htm

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That's entirely irrelevant.

If you think the cows aren't treated well you are wrong.

As you know I'm a farmer, now less involved it's true, as well. The question really is: what does treated 'well' mean?. Humm, I think in this case it means: clean, not cold or hot, adequately feed and watered, kept quiet and stress free. And do you know what that means? It means it's a prison, that's what it means. Prisoners are fed adequately, not too hot or too cold, kept quiet to keep them docile, and penned up. Now, it could be worse for these cows. They might (like some chickens) live on mesh all their lives, or grow so fast they can't stand on their own legs, or live inside with no daylight, but, there is no getting away from it - these cows will be living in a prison. Oh, and yes, I've been a animal prison officer! Oh, an yes, small farm (like yours and indeed ours) are indeed much less like prisons, more like open prisons, indeed sometimes close to real life.

The other judgement to be made is: is it acceptable to treat animal like this? I think that question is answered by giving people the information and letting them make up their minds if it's a product they want to buy. And it's also a question to be settled by law, about us saying what is acceptable. Personally I don't like to see cows milked to death, and I've stopped looking after animals that live short, fast growing lives.

That's not to say giant units are a good thing, but using welfare arguments against them is not valid.

See my argument above.

In all probability a large unit which can have a vet and several staff members on site 24/7 will do far better on any welfare assessments than my few cows up a hillside near the moors.

Oh, indeed, I've worked for farming concerns that could employ a vet, animals owned by such concerns are very well vetted...

The real issues with such a set up will be logistical, a very very large amount of feed will have to be brought in by road, a similar volume of 'waste products' <_< will have to be disposed of.

It's significant that due to the scale of the proposal methane powered electricity generation is included in the plans.

So that sounds like what the greenies want too.

You're right about waste products. Instead of such products being scattered around the countryside on small units a few people will have to put up with it all in one place. I don't think such a thing can or should be forced on them.

As to 'greenies' I must say you're nothing if not predictable...I don't think it aids your case to simply label anyone who has a concern about anything to do with the environment, or farming or the countryside as a 'greenie'.

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See Dev, I knew they'd be something in life we're in agreement on! Blinkin flip eh...

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I think one of the problems is that we as consumers want cheaper and cheaper produce all the time and of course this is going to mean that farms have to become more efficient and reduce costs.

Surely, one of the ways to reduce costs is to fit as many cows in the milking parlour at any one time. I'm sure that this new cattle farm will be extremely efficient and will be able to provide cheaper milk, which is what we want isnt it?

Also, these cows must be an investment by the farmers as im sure they arent cheap so why would the farmers want to harm them.

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I don't want cheaper food at the expense of animal welfare. Yes, profits are important but currently it is the profits of the large supermarkets which govern the profit of the farmer, that cannot be right surely?

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I don't want cheaper food at the expense of animal welfare. Yes, profits are important but currently it is the profits of the large supermarkets which govern the profit of the farmer, that cannot be right surely?

Also of a case of growing population. They need to be fed and as more country side is slowly replaced by concrete the bad news for cows this is how they will end up being kept. Supermarkets screw farmer left right and centre while bagging all the profit for themselves.

At the end of the day I prefer my food too living naturally rather than caged. I suspect if the cow could wander if would probably spend as much time outside as inside.

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I much prefer this type of low-energy input farming: -

http://www.flashtoonz.com/blog/?p=164

Won't work in Northern Europe.

Farming in our cool damp temperate climate has always revolved around keeping a variety of animals because we can't eat most of the stuff that grows here, and 7 months of the year nothing much grows at all further north.

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Won't work in Northern Europe.

Farming in our cool damp temperate climate has always revolved around keeping a variety of animals because we can't eat most of the stuff that grows here, and 7 months of the year nothing much grows at all further north.

I'm confused.... "we can't eat most of the stuff that grows here", what on earth do we grow that we cannot eat, if we can't eat it, why do we grow it?

It's not that long ago that this country grew enough food for us all to have plenty to eat, we didn't used to be dependant upon such vast imports. We've become so dependant upon imported food because we, as consumers demand year round supply of everything. We've developed a taste for foreign diets and demand it be available here as and when we want it.

We could grow far more food in this country and import far less if we went back to accepting the seasonality of some foods. It may be difficult further North to grow some foods but surely it would be better to transport crops from the South of this country, rather than fly them in from half way around the world?

Perhaps this is the way forward?

http://www.thanetearth.com/pdf/PR_Thanet_Earth_080109.pdf

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Interesting views ,its good that those in farming are posting.

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What if a more intelligent species used us like we use animals?

Treating creatures with respect, is important. To most animals - human beings are nothing more than nazis.

What utter drivel!

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Won't work in Northern Europe.

Farming in our cool damp temperate climate has always revolved around keeping a variety of animals because we can't eat most of the stuff that grows here, and 7 months of the year nothing much grows at all further north.

My grandfather has got 70-80% of his food from his large garden in Birmingham - all year round for decades.

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We could go back to the old days and keep our own animals and have a veg patch.

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