Dairy report exposes the expansion by stealth of intensive indoor dairy farms

By May 26, 2016 April 29th, 2019 Latest News
Article from the  World Animal Protection website

 Dairy report exposes the expansion by stealth of intensive indoor dairy farms

25 May 2016
Our dairy report published today shows that British consumers are unaware of the stealth introduction of intensive indoor dairy farms.

Tactics by developers include increasing farm sizes gradually and ‘retrospectively’ applying for planning permission, which makes it difficult for local planning authorities to consider the full impact on communities[1].

Although no official figures exist, the research has found nearly 100 confirmed intensive indoor dairy farms with a further 43 suspected. These systems can hold over 2,000 cows and now account for up to a fifth[2] of the milk produced in the UK. Cows in these systems never go outside, are pushed to their limits to produce more milk, and are at a higher risk of suffering from lameness and udder infections[3].

Consumers want free range milk

A recent YouGov poll showed that 87% of respondents would want to buy free range milk from cows that grazed on pasture, which would require more transparency about where British milk comes from.

Commenting on the report our Head of Campaigns, Alyx Elliott said, “We believe that the British public will be shocked about the number of intensive indoor dairy farms in the UK, especially when these systems put cows at an increased health risk and prevent them from expressing their natural behaviour. This century, countries such as Denmark have seen the majority of their cows moved to indoor intensive farms, without anyone noticing, and we do not want this to happen to us.

“The UK is the world’s 10th biggest milk producer but many farmers are selling milk at less than the cost of production. People are willing to pay more for free range milk – and they are already familiar with the ‘free-range’ concept – so this provides a fantastic opportunity for the dairy industry to create value in the milk we are producing. It means providing better labelling and replicating the great work pasture based dairy farmers are doing already.”

Very few people aware

Andrew Ayrton, pasture based dairy farmer in Skipton, Yorkshire, “Very few people are aware of intensive indoor dairy farming, and most believe that all cows go out to graze on grass. This way of farming causes lameness and health problems associated with standing in slurry all year. To go outdoors is a basic freedom that every cow should have.”

We are in discussions with nine supermarkets including Tesco, Aldi and Waitrose about providing free range milk labelling, and last week met with Defra farming Minister George Eustice to discuss the opportunities free-range milk presents to the dairy industry.

Free range milk is already being produced in the UK on a small scale, providing a model that could easily be expanded across the country. A recent World Animal Protection study found that there is no reason why it can’t be made widely available and a brand introduced with a minimum of 20,000 litres of milk supplying around 40 stores.

If you want to help keep cows on grass where they belong please sign and share our pledge.

References:

[1] Ruth Chambers’ research project verifying year-round housing systems on UK farms

[2] Link

[3] Whay et al., 1997; Smits et al., 1992)

 

Article from the  World Animal Protection website

 Dairy report exposes the expansion by stealth of intensive indoor dairy farms

25 May 2016
Our dairy report published today shows that British consumers are unaware of the stealth introduction of intensive indoor dairy farms.

Tactics by developers include increasing farm sizes gradually and ‘retrospectively’ applying for planning permission, which makes it difficult for local planning authorities to consider the full impact on communities[1].

Although no official figures exist, the research has found nearly 100 confirmed intensive indoor dairy farms with a further 43 suspected. These systems can hold over 2,000 cows and now account for up to a fifth[2] of the milk produced in the UK. Cows in these systems never go outside, are pushed to their limits to produce more milk, and are at a higher risk of suffering from lameness and udder infections[3].

Consumers want free range milk

A recent YouGov poll showed that 87% of respondents would want to buy free range milk from cows that grazed on pasture, which would require more transparency about where British milk comes from.

Commenting on the report our Head of Campaigns, Alyx Elliott said, “We believe that the British public will be shocked about the number of intensive indoor dairy farms in the UK, especially when these systems put cows at an increased health risk and prevent them from expressing their natural behaviour. This century, countries such as Denmark have seen the majority of their cows moved to indoor intensive farms, without anyone noticing, and we do not want this to happen to us.

“The UK is the world’s 10th biggest milk producer but many farmers are selling milk at less than the cost of production. People are willing to pay more for free range milk – and they are already familiar with the ‘free-range’ concept – so this provides a fantastic opportunity for the dairy industry to create value in the milk we are producing. It means providing better labelling and replicating the great work pasture based dairy farmers are doing already.”

Very few people aware

Andrew Ayrton, pasture based dairy farmer in Skipton, Yorkshire, “Very few people are aware of intensive indoor dairy farming, and most believe that all cows go out to graze on grass. This way of farming causes lameness and health problems associated with standing in slurry all year. To go outdoors is a basic freedom that every cow should have.”

We are in discussions with nine supermarkets including Tesco, Aldi and Waitrose about providing free range milk labelling, and last week met with Defra farming Minister George Eustice to discuss the opportunities free-range milk presents to the dairy industry.

Free range milk is already being produced in the UK on a small scale, providing a model that could easily be expanded across the country. A recent World Animal Protection study found that there is no reason why it can’t be made widely available and a brand introduced with a minimum of 20,000 litres of milk supplying around 40 stores.

If you want to help keep cows on grass where they belong please sign and share our pledge.

References:

[1] Ruth Chambers’ research project verifying year-round housing systems on UK farms

[2] Link

[3] Whay et al., 1997; Smits et al., 1992)