Battery cows face a higher risk of disease, injury and premature death. Not to mention a poorer life.
Threat to animal welfare
The future of British dairy farming may be about to change – and cows will pay the price with their welfare if it does. Industrial-scale farms will feature huge numbers of animals, with little or no access to open fields, round-the-clock milking and a high risk of poorer levels of welfare.
Disease, injury and premature death
WSPA’s research shows that cows kept in factory farms are likely to suffer lameness, mastitis and an increase in diseases. Lameness is extremely painful and already the single biggest welfare problem for dairy cows affecting an average of 17 per cent of cows at any one time. Lameness is worse amongst cows kept indoors and in Holstein cows, the high yield breed of choice for factory farms. Mastitis, a painful infection of the udder, has also been shown to be more common in cows farmed in intensive systems. Both illnesses are contributing factors for premature culling – i.e. an early death.
There is a high risk of quick spreading disease such as TB or foot and mouth and the impact is greatly enhanced.
Cows belong in fields
Industrialising British dairies will take cows out of fields and into factory farms. Not only does keeping them indoors in ‘battery style‘ housing inhibit their natural behaviour, but many dairy farmers report how their cows – young and old – bound across the fields on the first day of spring when their winter sheds open and they are released into the green fields for the warmer months.
Two’s company, 500’s a crowd
Cows are sociable creatures and prosper when living in small, stable groups. Vast factory farms would force cows to live in groups of up to 500, with herds often changing for the factory’s convenience. Overcrowding and constant regrouping can be a major cause of stress, bullying and aggression, with young cows (heifers) often coming off worse.