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New permanent home for UK's first 'slaughter-free' dairy farm - where cows 'retire'

The UK’s first ’slaughter-free’ dairy farm has moved to a new permanent home.

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Credit: AHIMSA DAIRY FOUNDATION
Credit: AHIMSA DAIRY FOUNDATION

Instead of being culled when they get older, dairy cows will ’retire’ and their male calves, which are normally killed and sold for meat, will be put to work on the farm.

 

Ahimsa dairy in Rutland was previously on rented land in Leicestershire but has secured its future with land bought in Manton.

 

Nicola Pazdzierska said that while their milk was more expensive, many people were willing to spend the extra.

 

"We charge a lot more for the product but part of that money is going into our cows’ pension fund, and at the same time, we don’t think milk should be a cheap product," she said.

 

"In London a pint of craft beer can sell for £6.20, so we don’t think it’s unsustainable for our milk to sell for £4.50 a litre at a farmers’ market, or £3.50 for members.

 

"We want to make the model replicable so other farms can follow."

 


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Slaughter-free: What it means

Slaughter-free: What it means
  • Dairy cows are normally slaughtered after about five years when they stop producing as much milk, but Ahimsa cows go into retirement
  • Male calves are normally killed shortly after birth or sold for meat, but the Ahimsa dairy puts them to work on the farm
  • Newborn calves are normally separated from their mothers, but they stay together as grazing partners at the Ahimsa dairy
  • Cows are usually artificially inseminated, but Ahimsa cows are impregnated by bulls
  • Ahimsa cows are milked by hand rather than by machine
  • Ahimsa cows can choose between sheltering in a barn or grazing freely on organic pasture

The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation was founded in 2011 and originally produced milk in partnership with an organic farm in Kent.

 

The organisation was inspired by the farm at Bhaktivedanta Manor, in Hertfordshire, which is run by the Hare Krishna movement, after being donated by Beatles musician George Harrison.

 

The cows would produce milk in Kent and retire to the Ahimsa farm in Groby, in Leicestershire.

 

All of the organisation's 30 animals now live at the new farm in Manton, Rutland, and all of the milk production is there too.

 

In future, the farm aims to produce its own cheese and also create a visitor centre.

 

Its website states: "Thanks to support from our wonderful friends and supporters we have finally completed the purchase of new organic land in Rutland. Our cows now have a permanent home and we can start to build for the future.

"So far we have bought 48 acres of land in the lovely village of Wing. We are also renting a further 24 acres there with an option to buy in 18 months.

"We are renting a yard adjacent to the land with a track running down to the fields where our cows spent the winter in a barn. They were over-joyed when we finally opened the gate and let them run out onto the grass."

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