Ahimsa Dairy Foundation
The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation (ADF) runs a unique dairy farm in the heart of the picturesque county of Rutland which is entirely slaughter-free. Inspired by the model of farming at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the Hare Krishna temple near Watford, no cow, bull calf or grown ox is ever sent to the abattoir and all live out their full natural lives.
Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word meaning non-violence and that is the way the not-for-profit organisation farms.
Fundamentally the team believe that it is wrong to take a cow’s milk and be sustained by this miracle food and then kill her when she becomes less productive. She deserves a happy old age, chewing the cud with her friends and relations in the fields, in gratitude for all she has given.
“At a time when fossil fuels are destroying the world and leading to catastrophic climate change, it makes no sense to kill bull calves in their thousands. Their strength and muscle can be employed to work the land as they did for centuries even in Britain before the advent of the industrial revolution and the tractor.
Oxen work in harmony with nature and their hooves do not damage the precious soil as heavy machinery does. Their dung and urine is also a vital fertiliser for the earth feeding billions of microorganisms and worms and creating healthy pasture, which acts as an important carbon sink”.
At present, the Ahimsa Dairy has a herd of more than 35 milking cows, calves and oxen, all with names and individual personalities. It also has a bull called Superhero, who is father to most of the calves. The calves stay with their mothers and the herd for at least six months, until they become big and strong. There are six calves who now have their own little gang.
The milking cows are mainly milked by hand and only visit the bull every two to four years. They do not have yearly pregnancies as in conventional dairies.
The Ahimsa Dairy strives to farm to the highest agroecological standards, encouraging and supporting wildlife on its organic pasture. A survey by the Wildlife Trust showed that, since the cows had been there, biodiversity on the land had increased and last year critically endangered water voles were found living on the banks of the river which runs through the fields.
Barn owl and bat boxes have been sited on the trees and there are soon to be boxes for kestrels too. In the warm months, the farm is awash with moths and butterflies.