Here’s Molly, just one of the world’s 240 million dairy cows. Molly works hard each day to produce the many litres of milk needed to make the dairy products that we love, like ice cream, cheese, yoghurt and butter.
Molly lives on an animal-friendly farm in the south west of England where she and the rest of the herd graze in fields of fresh grass. The herd are well cared for and receive extra feed if they need it, as well as plenty of water.
Molly is part of a fortunate herd: they are kept outside for a large part of the year, in their natural environment and able to move freely. All this exercise keeps them healthy and prevents the cows from going lame.
While Molly’s story is a happy one, this isn’t so for millions of other dairy cows around the world.
Millions of dairy cows are kept and fed indoors. They will never graze on grass, or even stand on it. Their short lives will be spent on hard or slippery floors which hurt their feet and make walking, standing and lying down difficult.
What’s worse, many have been bred to produce more milk than is good for them. As a result they suffer from exhaustion, their large udders make it difficult to walk and many go lame. What many people don’t realise is that farms like Molly’s are both kind to animals AND have surprising benefits for people in terms of saving energy and other precious resources.
As most of her herd’s water and food comes from pastureland, the farmer doesn’t have to pay as much for food and food transport as the indoor dairy farmers do. And with the herd living outside most of the time, water and energy isn’t needed to clean huge and toxic amounts of animal waste out of buildings – it simply and naturally returns to the earth.
Molly’s pastureland also has great environmental benefits because it captures and stores carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – in the ground . Now that’s clever!