Not all dairy farmers… | Voice of a farmer


The community impact of Eunice, that Panorama documentary, and the government’s drive for rewilding – James Cossins muses on a busy few weeks.

Here at Rawston Farm we have managed to come through the week of three named storms relatively unharmed. We did lose our electricity supply for 24 hours, but with our generators at each dairy on standby we managed to continue milking our cows without too much disruption.

We lost a number of trees to the gales but fortunately they didn’t cause damage to our buildings. Our surrounding villages didn’t fare quite so well, with a loss of power for up to five days and nights with power lines being brought down by trees, and wooden power line poles breaking. It has been a challenging time for all but it has brought out the community spirit, with everyone helping neighbours out. I am sure when the wind has calmed down there will be lessons to be learnt as to the best way to cope in these situations.

March means drilling crops at Rawston – pictured here in the 1960’s image – James Cossins

A cow’s life

I am sure that many of the readers may have watched the Panorama programme portraying the life a dairy cow. As a dairy producer I was shocked at what I saw. I could not believe that humans could treat animals in this way. As was stated in the programme, most animal keepers would never treat their animals like this. We have various assurance schemes such as Red Tractor and in our personal case an Arla assurance scheme which goes into great detail on animal welfare and how to best treat animals. We
have protocols on how to handle animals and how to deal with emergencies. We all occasionally have a sick animal, and by following compassionate methods you are far more likely to nurse the patient back to a full recovery than if the anlmal was maltreated.

I hope readers understand that the actions taken on the farm featured in the documentary is very much an isolated occurance. I understand that following the programme, the farm was visited by various inspectors to question their welfare practices.

Rewilding or food security?

Recently the NFU held their annual conference which this year took place in-person. One of the key speakers was George Eustace, the Minister for the Environment, and it became clear that the Government is determined to go down the road of promoting rewilding of land, and growing crops for wildlife. Whilst I agree in certain circumstances it is appropriate on less favoured land to do this, the Government seem to have forgotten about food production and this country’s food security. With what is going on in the world at the time of writing, I would have thought the government would have put more emphasis on producing our own food for this country rather than relying on imports.

Spring begins

As we move through March we will be concentrating on sowing our barley and bean crops, and applying some fertiliser to kick start the autumn crops into their spring growth.

The dairy cows are already looking over the gate, waiting patiently to be let out to graze once more. And so yet another year’s cycle begins again.

by James Cossins

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