Free Range

The free range debate still seems to be rumbling on over on twitter….

I fall in to the category of free range farmer I suppose. Our heifers “went out” in April 2016 and we still had some out in January of this year! We were feeding silage outside as the grass doesn’t grow at this time of year. It was also frosty, but the cows were happy. 20170105_100755.jpg

How do I know this?

Well if they weren’t happy they would be stood at the gate mooing their heads off!

So free range milk. A value added product in the age of a volatile market. Great I thought. That was until I watched Friday night feast on channel 4 who were promoting the product.

The connotations and insinuations that were made on the programme were very misleading. Housed cows are unhealthy and unhappy was the impression I was given. Not taking anything away from Jimmy Doherty as I think he has done a great job promoting British agriculture on the whole.

I take umbridge with this because, if done correctly, housed cows have been some of the happiest I’ve seen. Also due to the grass growing season of the uk “free range” cows will have to be housed for a portion of the year. So saying cows are unhappy etc when housed is damaging to the free range brand and the industry as a whole.

It’s not the system that defines the health and wellbeing of animals. It’s the person managing it. Same applies to organic.

So as a free range farmer what authority do I have to speak about housed systems? I visited America last year. I have to say I was concerned about what I would see on arrival at the farms I was visiting bur my fears were unfounded. 20160319_143356 (1).jpg

This was typical of the farms I visited and the cows were happy, contented and in peak health!

Here is our winter housing. A light airy barn in which we get very few health problems Again if these animals weren’t happy they’d literally shout about it! They are cleaned out twice a day and get fresh straw everyday and as much silage as they can eat! What’s not to like!?20170126_083144



So my point is not to persuade you away from free range. Far from it. I want people to have a choice. I just want it to be an informed choice.

In the uk we produce quality, antibiotic and growth promoter free, sustainable and traceable products. So if you see the red tractor on something you pick up in the supermarket you know this is the case as that farm has been inspected.


Anyway. Back to the day job.


2 thoughts on “Free Range

  1. Totally agree. Although my highland cattle are ‘free range’ and don’t go indoors in winter, I can only manage this as my fold is only 25 in number. No dairy cow would be happy in mud and can you imagine the pathways back to the milking parlour. And of course, don’t let me get started on badgers. More diary cows would be out but a farmer must protect from vermin badgers contaminating their herds and destroying their business. It is the ‘hog farms’ in the USA that are beyond belief. Pigs move from factory room to factory room, never feel the sun or fresh air. EAT BRITISH. Highest welfare in the world.


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