The health and welfare of our cows is extremely important to us. We like to see them happy and able to live a life that meets their needs as a herd animal, with access to everything they require to be healthy and contented.
The RSPCA believes that anyone responsible for looking after animals, whether that’s a herd of cows or a pet hamster, should try to give them the five freedoms. The way in which we can do this varies for every animal.
So, what are the five freedoms and how do we ensure that we provide them for our cows?
Freedom from hunger and thirst
By ensuring our cows always have access to food, whether that’s grazing grass or munching on their balanced ration of home-grown forage, we keep them free from hunger. Fresh water is provided constantly via troughs in the barn and in the fields keeping them free from thirst.
Freedom from discomfort
We provide our cows with a clean, comfortable barn in which they can rest or seek shelter from inclement weather or find shade during the summer months. We give them the freedom to choose for themselves where they want to be – either outside grazing grass or inside if they prefer. This means that they never have to endure extremes of weather.
Freedom from pain, injury or disease
Creating the right environment for our cows helps to keep them healthy and injury-free. We also vaccinate them where necessary and ensure they are wormed regularly. We have weekly visits from our farm vet who deals with any routine requirements. Coupled with a monthly check-up from the foot specialist who addresses any lameness issues, we do our very best to keep our cows free from pain, injury or disease.
Freedom to express normal behaviour
Cows are herd animals and enjoy the company of their herd mates so they are always free to socialise. We ensure that there are always more beds than cows so that every cow can lie down when they wish. We give them plenty of outside space in which they can graze, rest or play. We use a robotic milking system that allows them to decide for themselves when they feel ready to be milked. Simply put, we do our best to just let them ‘be cows.’
Freedom from fear or distress
Our cows are always treated with kindness, compassion and respect. They do not fear us as they know there is nothing to be fearful of. Everything decision we make as farmers and food producers considers the welfare of our cows as our top priority.
If you have any questions about the five freedoms and what they mean to us, please get in touch or even better, come and visit us – we are always very happy to show people what we do.