Herd indoors

Posted on February 28, 2020

Lady Muck drew my attention to a label on the milk she buys from Waitrose that trumpets that all their mik comes from cows who are pasture-grazed for at least 120 day a year. Great stuff. Except that there are 365 days in a year (except this year of course!) so what do the cows get up to  on the other 240-odd days? The fantasist in me wonders if they are grazing indoors – perhaps at one of those hotel buffets now deserted by humans because of the Covid-19 lock down in said hotel. But that is rather far-fetched, if a charming idea. It is surely not cheaper to feed cows indoors for two thirds of the year, although grass, even in these times of global climate breakdown doesnt grow year round, so it is inevitable that the beasts will need at least supplementary feed – hay or silage anyone – for some part of the year.  But eight months? This isn’t Iceland. The climate there means that cows do indeed get  stabled  indoors for  about eight months a year, and come mid-May, when they are let out, it is more or less a day of national celebration, and not just for the cows. Schools cancel lessons for the day to allow children to go to farms to watch the cow’s first steps of the year on grass, with fresh air and sunshine to savour. Unsurprisingly the cows are more than delighted, and come racing out dancing and skipping as only cows can. A sight to delight any nine year old – or adult. Perhaps Waitrose think its all worthwhile for British cows too to be kept indoors for so long. But in that case where are  the coach loads of excited school children there to watch their first steps out of captivity?

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