Oh God, even reading about it is making me feel slightly uncomfortable, and this is from someone who got through Jonathon Safran Foers Eating Animals pretty much unscathed. Yes it’s Britain’s first factory dairy farm – or rather, proposed dairy farm.
The plan is to open a facility which will house 8,100 cows in sheds year-round at Nocton in Lincolnshire. It’s battery chicken farming, only with cows. The usual suspects have come out against it - Compassion in World Farming calls the plan disastrous, the Soil Association says it is “beyond reason”; over 70 MPs have signed a motion condemning it, while the Facebook group Oppose The UK’s Biggest Factory Farm had 3,500 members last time I looked. However the UKs farming minister is supporting the project and many think the £40 million facility will go ahead, bringing badly needed employment to the area.
Essentially, factory farms aren’t good for animals or for anyone who eats meat (see post on the above book coming soon). Even if they are treated thoroughly humanely, I don’t like the sound of cows living a warehouse all year. Bovines are programmed to graze and despite the fact that grazing is about getting food, being out in a field filling their gob with grass is basically their central activity. That’s why horses who are stabled for too long with box walk, wind suck, eat the walls etc, because they are being confined away from what they are programmed to do. Being outdoors in a grazing situation is essential to what a cow is.
And before I get called a hairy toe vegan, while I believe in the happiness of livestock, I also believe in eating them. I want anything I eat to have lived a half decent life and be killed humanely. That’s the contract that human beings have with animals, or correction, should have. Most of the problems surrounding the welfare of farm animals actually lie with us the consumer. If we want cheap food, food will be produced under conditions that are less than ethical. Not only this, but human health which is at the end of that chain will eventually suffer from lower standards and cheaper production methods applied to everything we eat. Look at what came out of the pig farms in La Gloria Mexico. We really don’t want this to be our food future, trust me.
The row over the Lincolnshire farm is set to continue, watch this space...