Dairy farming in the UK
World Animal Protection is fighting to protect dairy cows by saying ‘no’ to factory farming.
Cows in fields are still a common sight in the UK. They can graze and move around in small groups, suiting their sociable nature and helping to reduce stress levels.
But the welfare of dairy cows is at risk as struggling farmers come under pressure to scale up and switch to intensive farming methods.
Farming in the UK
There are currently over 10,500 farms in England and Wales. The majority have an average herd size of about 120 animals – and farms with more than 200 cows are rare.
Farming in the US
Compare this with industrial-scale indoor dairy factories in the United States – which can house tens of thousands of cows. Milked around the clock with little or no access to the outdoors, the welfare of these ‘battery cows’ is a far cry from our impression of dairy farming in the UK.
For the vast numbers of exhausted cows crammed inside US-style factory dairies, health problems like mastitis, lameness and infertility are common. Unable to move around freely, their natural behaviour is restricted and so some cows can become stressed and aggressive.
The threat of intensive farming
Sadly, the threat of factory farming in the UK may be bigger than we think. There are already some intensive cow dairies in the UK – and milk from these already makes up around 10% of the milk we drink.
World Animal Protection campaigns against factory farms and champions free-range dairy farmers.
We successfully campaigned against a proposal to build an 8,000 cow intensive dairy in Lincolnshire, and have been fighting to stop the small village of Leighton in Wales becoming dominated by a 1000-cow factory farm.
Working alongside farmers
Although many farmers don’t want to subject their cows to factory farming, the globalised food industry prioritises price and volume of milk produced above animal wellbeing.
World Animal Protection is working with UK farmers to show why milk from cows grazed in fields is better for cows, for health, and for the environment.