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Battery Dairy Cows And Cattle Welfare

Updated on October 15, 2014

Where Does Our Milk Come From? Are Cows Treated Well?

Have you heard of Dairy Megafarms, Dairy battery farms, Zero Grazing? If not you will need to get used to these terms as they are coming to UK fast.

My Grandfather was a dairy farmer. He had a herd of cows that grazed in the fields. He and his dog would go get them in for milking, then out they would go again in to their fields. Their calves stayed with their mothers until weaned. I guess it was what we would now call organic, free range farming....

I have had the experience of stroking a cow, having her lick my hand with her rasping tougue, watching her with her calf, learning to hand milk a cow and spending too many hours just watching them grazing in a field and chewing their cud. At least as a child I got to see cows in fields where I think they belong.

I am not totally naive and I know that in most cases that sort of farm doesn't exist anymore. The contented cow in the beautiful meadow is all but gone. Smaller dairy farmers are struggling to keep going and work their farms. Maybe we should not be telling our children that exists anymore?

It seems a world away from the battery mega no grass dairy farms that are now being proposed in my home county. At a time when at last it is being recognized that battery hens and egg production is inhumane, we now seem to be heading to a situation of battery cows!!

You will make your own mind up what you are prepared to put up with for cheap milk .

Please watch the videos and read the short articles and see what you think.

Please Note

PLEASE NOTE:-I am writing to raise awareness rather than blame and castigate. I am writing not to harass the farmers who run the mega dairies, which is perfectly legal,(and delivering cheap milk to us), but to work to see do we really need to go down the mega dairy route in Uk, or can we keep our smaller dairy herds? Not to inflame passions about this topic or guilt people but to search for sensible options.

I have included articles and videos of descriptions and footage of cows in situations that some people may find distressing. I have not included the more extreme and graphic scenes that are available as I do not think that is helpful.

I have tried to provide some balance to the argument by showing some moderate films where the megafarmers do get to say how they feel mega dairy farms are working and how they feel the health of cows does not suffer. I have included articles from the Animal Rights organisations and Compassion in World Farming to show their concerns.

Would you drink the milk from battery cows "farmed" in this intensive way, never grazing in a field?

Or do you feel that its Ok to drink milk from cows farmed in this way, even better maybe?

Factory battery zero grazing milk will be cheaper. You will have to pay more for organic milk or less intensively farmed milk.

If you live in US your milk may already be battery farmed milk-do you know where it comes from, what the cows are fed, how the dairy cows live and die,what antibiotics and other medications they have ?

What is in your cuppa?

Would you drink Factory Milk from Battery Cows?

See results

Countryfile visits a Cow megafarm

What Do You Think Of Mega Farming Dairy Cows

See results
What's In Your Cuppa?
What's In Your Cuppa? | Source

Do We Care About Cows?

The Cow In The Meadow Goes "moo"

I mean do we care? Should we care?

Do we mind where our milk comes from ? How it is produced?

Cows are not, never have been a family pet really. Unlike lambs or even pigs maybe not so cute looking of the farm animals. They give us milk and meat. They moo and we sometimes see them in the fields grazing. Calves are cute of course but we don't tend to see them too often. Their lives mostly are destined for meat or to be raised as a dairy cow too.

In order for us to have milk a cow must give birth and the calf must be taken away from her so we can have the milk.

So why am I writing this when after all a cow is doing what it was bred for isnt it?

The days of a family having a family cow and milking it for their needs is over mostly, the days of small family farms herding cows in pasture is becoming a distant memory, like my Grandfathers farm. These cows lived how a cow should live in pasture in the spring and summer, allowed to spend some time with her calf, allowed to live out her natural behaviours grazing and interacting with her herd.

Does a cow still deserve to be able to do her natural behaviours out in pasture in the warmer months?


Should a cow be a factory cow?

Dairy Farming

Bigger herds, more commercial ways of running a farm have been the norm for sometime, but in UK there is a shift on the horizon approaching fast. It is already in US and gathering speed.

If we read the anti mega dairy farm response the reality of intensive "battery", factory farming of a dairy herd is so very very different. zero grazing, factory environments, calves gone so very quickly after birth, little movement, increased health issues or risk of health issues, lameness, painful mastitis, cows"spent" after just a few years ready for slaughter.

Is it necessary? Is it the future we want to explain to our children?

Does a cow need to be in a field, grazing?

Milk is required for our human population. Farmers are struggling and doing their best to provide at a good price to us while struggling themselves to get a good price and stay in business.

Intensive battery farming is already in US and British farmers have been going over to see for themselves how it can work- the pros and cons.

Its no good blaming the farmers they are providing for us. Some of the videos below will state what they believe are the pros of farming in this way and how the cows are just fine. We need to think if its what we want!

Having seen a programme about these megafarms for dairy cows recently I wanted to look into it more and the future for me looks bleak for cows.

Its not only the cows....

If we get intensive megafarms in UK the future looks bleak for small dairy farmers too. US and UK smaller dairy farmers are already struggling, unable to compete with the big farms.

Its not only the farmers..

What are we putting in our bodies, what are we drinking in our coffee, our cereals? What are we giving in that wholesome looking glass of milk to our children?

Do we really know? Should we even bother?

Andrew Sachs On Milk

Brief Cow facts

How long can a cow live?

Cows can live 25 years. (However they do not live this long in a Battery Situation!)

Do cows have good vision?

Cows have almost total 360 degree panoramic vision and are able to see colors, except red.

How long does a cow spend eating each day?

6 hours eating and 8 hours chewing cud. A cow doesn't bite the grass, but she curls her tongue around it. She eats about 95 pounds of feed per day.

How much does a cow drink?

The average cow drinks about 30 gallons of water

How often does a cow sit down each day?

A cow stands up and sits down about 14 times a day.

Are Cows social animals?

Cows are very social animals. They form large herds and will bond to some herd members while avoiding others. They "moo" and use different body positions and facial expressions to communicate with each other.

The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk?but rather Can they suffer?

Jeremy Bentham

Animal Aid On Battery Cows

A Hard hitting article on how Animal Aid view the Battery Cow industry.

"...dairy farming has reached

a critical new juncture with the

arrival of the almost permanently confined

battery cow."

Animal Aid article.

Radio Interview - Farming Today Interviews US Farmers About Mega Dairy Farming - Mega Dairy Farms Impact On Smaller Farmers.

Impact of the Dairy Megafarms on Smaller farmers.

Farming today Interviews US Dairy farmers and the way they feel this type of farming is impacting them.

"Do we want family farming or not?"

What About The Smaller Dairy Farmers?

Farming is a difficult business. Dairy farmers are very dependant on milk prices and have to deal in a very competitive world. It is not an easy life.

Other issues have been the possibility of badgers spreading TB, the threat of BSE, Foot and Mouth Disease and considerable financial pressures.

Another potential nail in the coffin is the massive zero grazing megafarms.

What will smaller dairy farmers do if these massive farms flourish in UK? The chances are that many will go under, unable to remain competitive alongside these giants. This will change the face of the British countryside and farming forever.

What will they lose- their livihood, their farms, their herds, their way of life.

Can smaller dairy farmers survive anyway with milk prices, risk of disease, financial pressures, or is it the natural progression of things for farms to get bigger and bigger? Does it have to be that way? Is there a solution that will save smaller farmers?

What will we lose? Choice (megafarm battery factory milk will be the norm), our countryside, no more cows in a meadow to show our children.

MPs Get Educated About Dairy farming

Mega Farmers Hit Back Against Critics

Mega dairy farmers and their supporters maintain that the cows farmed in this way are happy, disease free, well looked after, have excellent vetinary care, are content and that there are no animal rights issues.

They maintain that the arguments against these mega dairy farms are unfounded and have no basis in fact.

In addition it is being said that this is the way forward for dairy farming to survive and in order to provide cheap milk to a growing human population...

Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.

Albert Schweitzer

CIWF-What Price Cheap Milk? - Factory Farmed or Organic Farmed Milk??

Heres the dilemma.

Milk costs money to produce and money to buy.

The human population is rising and people want/need milk.

The economic situation is hurting people and they want cheap food and cheap milk - or do they ? Is organic milk an option for families to buy, even though it is more expensive?

Intensive battery farming of Dairy Cows can indeed produce the cheap milk in the volumes we want.

Smaller dairy farmers are going out of business fast.

Question is what kind of farming practices can we live with and how much are we prepared to pay for our milk?

The Cow - by Robert Louis Stephenson - This May Be No More Than A Distant Rustic Fantasy? No More Cows In The Fields?


The friendly cow all red and white,

I love with all my heart:

She gives me cream with all her might,

To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,

And yet she cannot stray,

All in the pleasant open air,

The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass

And wet with all the showers,

She walks among the meadow grass

And eats the meadow flowers.

WSPA Not In My Cuppa Campaign

If you live in Uk and are not happy about the proposals for megafarms for our dairy and milk production you can have your say.

Thank You For Visiting

If you wish to leave a comment I will be pleased to read it.

I do read all comments before publishing.and I do appreciiate you taking the time. I do not permit commercial links Thankyou.

Thank you for taking the time to read this page.

© 2010 RaintreeAnnie

Do you have any views on dairy farming?

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    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from UK

      @Stazjia Yes it seems so unnatural and I agree with you a horrible way to produce milk. Of course mostly we do not see how our food, milk etc is produced any more. I know many farmers struggle with milk prices too. Thank you for visiting.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      3 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I saw a mega dairy farm on television a few months ago and I think it is a horrible way to produce milk. What a world we live in if farmers can only make a living by keeping animals in unnatural conditions.

    • SheilaMilne profile image


      6 years ago from Kent, UK

      This has really shocked me. Fortunately around where I live they still seem to have cows in the fields but we must make every effort to make sure they don't go down the factory farming road.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There was a big debate about this at the WI last year so I was aware of some of the issues, but you've really clarified things here. Good job, thanks.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UK

      @TonyPayne: Thank you Poddys for taking the time to comment, I appreciate that.

      Thank you for your Angel blessing:)

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UK

      @SylviaRolfe: Thank you so much for the Angel blessing and for your comment:)

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UK

      @darciefrench lm: Thank you for your comments, the blessing and for the feature, I really appreciate it:) Interesting question about the quality of the milk....

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Thanks for bringing this to more people's attention. I have seen documentaries on these battery dairy farms in the USA, some with hundreds of thousands of cows, who never see the light of day, or taste fresh grass. All they do is stand in their stall all day, eat and create milk. Thy are permanently connected up for milk collection, and their waste is collected automatically and turned into manure. It's horrible. Blessed by an angel.

    • SylviaRolfe profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, this was an eye opening lens. I really had no idea. Blessed by an angel.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      Great lens on battery farming dairy cows, and the differences between battery bred and 'free range organic'. I wonder if we're changing the quality of the milk produced by changing the usual circumstances for production ( containment vs grazing in the field ). Excellent review, well done. Angel blessed, and featured on Blessed Pets.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UK

      @stuhaynes lm: Thank you , I appreciate your visit and taking the time to read this.

    • stuhaynes lm profile image

      stuhaynes lm 

      7 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading your lens


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