Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Calf at Foot Dairy > making the world ‘a better place for cows’

There are huge debates going on about the values around veganism:
Futures Forum: Are modern plant-based diets and foods actually sustainable?
Futures Forum: The "vegangelical" cause on Radio 4's Food Programme

And around the values of raising farm animals:
Futures Forum: Climate change: and taxing meat
Futures Forum: Climate change: the role of livestock and agriculture.......... or: "Can steak save the planet?"

Here is a farmer very much stuck between the two worlds of veganism and conventional dairy farming:

Calf at Foot - the calf-friendly, cow-kind micro-dairy - YouTube
Calf at Foot Dairy - Sustainable Food Trust - Sustainable Food Trust
Help the Calf at Foot Dairy to move, a Food and Drink Crowdfunding Project in Butley on Crowdfunder

Vegans are not impressed:
The Calf at Foot Dairy and Happy Exploitation: “They produce better quality stuff for us to eat.” – Animal Rights The Abolitionist Approach

And there are doubts about the product:
There's a raw milk revolution going on - Telegraph

However, there is increasing interest in this project - as related in the weekend's i newspaper: 

The dairy farmer who refuses to separate calves from mothers to make world ‘a better place for cows’

Fiona Provan runs the Calf at Foot Dairy in Somerleyton (Andrew Fox)
Friday June 22nd 2018

Her unusual approach to dairy farming won’t make Fiona Provan rich, but it makes her happy. By Serina Sandhu

Fiona Provan is the first to admit she has fallen out with a lot of people. But the dairy farmer doesn’t seem to care. She is certain she is doing the right thing.

“I’ve fallen out with the conventional [dairy farmers], I’ve fallen out with the vegans… I’m in the middle. So I get attacked.”

The 54-year-old runs The Calf at Foot Dairy, an ethical farm where 16 grass-fed, jersey cows are allowed to roam freely on Suffolk land. The most radical aspect of her business is the way Provan, unlike most traditional dairy farmers, allows calves to stay with their mothers until their natural weaning age. She says she pioneered this approach at a commercial level.

At a conventional dairy farm calves are generally separated from their mothers within 24 hours of their birth. The approach substantially increases the amount of milk available for human consumption and proponents argue it can also reduce the chances of disease being transmitted from the dam to the calf.

But the approach is opposed by animal rights groups because the separation is stressful for both the mother and the calf. Studies suggest that calves reared by their mothers are likely to gain more weight, have better health and enjoy improved social behaviour. The RSPCA says there could also be health benefits for dams who stay with their offspring, including a reduction in the incidence of mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue).

Lifelong love for cows

Provan’s controversial approach to producing milk was born out of a lifelong love of cows. Her father was a vet specialising in cattle. “I just loved being around those cows… there’s something about them, their breathing. Their heart rate is slower and they’re warmer.” She credits the mammals with helping her deal with depression.

But her decision to allow her cows and calves to stay together as a herd has made her a target for dairy farmers who feel she is criticising their practices. She has also been attacked by some vegans who appreciate her ethical stance, but remain committed to ending animal agriculture.

Provan, a resilient, outspoken woman, is unrepentant. She tells me she has “f**king laid into” those who question the way she farms.

She has come close to becoming a vegan, she says, but believes that herbivores like her cows are a vital part of Britain’s ecosystem. Milk and meat for that matter can be produced kindly, she says.

Her aim is to “make the world a better place for dairy cows”.

Provan has a life-long love for cows (Andrew Fox)

‘Cruel to the mother’

“When they’re separated, so the farmer can have all the milk to sell for us to drink, that’s not right. It’s unnatural, it’s cruel to the mother… you’re drinking milk from a depressed, grieving animal and that doesn’t sit right.”

The mother-of-three says her approach to dairy farming was also shaped by her maternal instinct. Women farmers simply wouldn’t take calves from their mothers, she says. “If women were in charge it would never have come to this. Women aren’t so greedy naturally, are they? They’re not egotistical, they’re not territorial… men want more and more cows, more and more land,” she says.

“I know we have to bring it back to this,” she says, gesturing to the fields of her female-run farm.

Provan knew from an early age she wanted to work with cows, but she ended up in the catering trade. “It’s all sh*t, fast food, stuff comes from packets,” she says. “You just make it look fancy on a plate.”

About 10 years ago – after learning the ropes at her former partner’s farm – she bought a few house cows and began selling ‘raw’ or un-pasturised milkshakes from a burger van. The demand was remarkable.

By 2012 she had established the Calf at Foot Dairy and nowadays she is a tenant farmer at Home Farm in Somerleyton.

Heavy cost

Her decision to allow calves to have first dibs at their mother’s milk comes at a heavy cost. She produces a fraction of the milk extracted by big dairies – just 70 litres a day in contrast to the thousands of litres that flow from the mega farms.

While her ‘raw’ milk is thick and creamy and sells for a premium – £3 a litre – she struggles financially.

But no amount of profit could make her turn to conventional dairy farming. She wants nothing to do with it. She reiterates that she is determined to keep her business afloat to prove there is another way of dairy farming. It may take her a while but her goal is to eventually buy her own farm.

At one point she becomes very emotional and tears up: “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I had children but this keeps me alive,” she adds. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this. This has just got
to work.”

Read more:
‘I couldn’t look them in the eye’: Farmer who couldn’t slaughter his cows is turning his farm vegan
Farmers speak out about ‘militant’ vegans: We’re accused of rape, torture and murder
Vegan advert claiming cow’s milk is linked to cancer is banned

The dairy farmer who refuses to separate calves from their mothers - inews

1 comment:

Packers And Movers Bangalore said...

Really impressive post. I read it whole and going to share it with my social circules. I enjoyed your article and planning to rewrite it on my own blog.
Packers And Movers in Bangalore Local