OPINION: Dear Safe, Farmwatch and the Sunday programme.
OK. You guys are right. After much soul-searching I’ve decided that you are right. I am a dirty, cruel, murdering dairy farmer.
I’m going to change my ways, stop milking my cows, stop sending cull cows and bobby calves to the works, stop ripping the baby calves off their mothers.
All the animals will be kept until the end of their natural life. Heck I’ll even convert to veganism. It will be paradise!
I might need your help and advice on how to make these changes, since you seem to know what’s best for us all.
I’ve got three full-time staff and two part-timers and they rely on our business to provide for their families. I’ll have to lay them off, but I’m sure they will understand.
Tomorrow I’ll open all the gates on the farm and let the cows FREE to fend for themselves as nature intended. The calves and heifers will be reunited with their mummies and they’ll be so happy! Everything will be in harmony.
We’ve got 440 cows, 13 bulls, 90 heifers and 98 calves. The calves are four months old and are starting to become sexually active. I guess the bulls will have their way with them and the calves will have their first calf in nine months time.
We would normally keep the bulls away from them for another year, but we don’t want to restrict their natural tendencies do we, Safe?
They will be way too young and some will die giving birth because their calf will be too big, but, hey, that’s what nature intended I guess?
Next spring we will have 530 cows because nothing has been culled, and we’ll leave all the calves on the cows. So we’ll have 530 cows, 90 heifers, and 500 calves at a guess. Plus 13 worn out bulls!
We won’t bring the calves in to a warm dry shed and make sure they’ve all been fed – that would be too cruel.
We won’t milk the cows and relieve them when they have too much milk, that would be too cruel.
There will be a lot of mastitis and milk fever and calving problems, but I guess that’s the vegan way? We shouldn’t interfere.
Of course, without any grazing management or bought-in feed (no money for that) there will be no grass to feed all these animals, but then again the cows know best – like you say they are very intelligent. They will work it out.
Or maybe with all your donation money you could help out and buy some feed? We may need a hand to pay the interest to the bank as well, I’m sure you understand.
Another year would go by and we’d be up to 600 cows 250 heifers and 250 yearling bulls. With all the freedom to breed there would be 850 calves born that year I’m guessing.
I couldn’t bear to sell anything, in case the buyer eventually sold them to the nasty freezing works.
Everything has to live out its natural life. It’s the vegan way and it must be right.
After another say 10 years we’re up to 5000 cows, 4000 bulls, 2000 heifers and 2000 yearling bulls.
The district council are a bit upset at all the pollution going into the river but they will understand because the animals’ rights are far more important.
I’m finding it a bit tough growing my vegetables to eat because all the bulls fighting have destroyed all the fences.
I’m starting to think there must be a better way!
Maybe if we get our herd at a manageable number, cull the older cows and send the surplus calves off each year, maybe that would work!
Perhaps we could milk the cows and sell the milk to make some money, and use that money to feed and care for the cows we have! We could even employ some people to help out!
Oh, hang on, that’s what we’re doing now…..
Marc Gascoigne is a Cambridge dairy farmer