September 7, 2010


UK consumers object to super-dairy milk


Almost two-thirds of UK shoppers would not buy milk produced from cows kept indoors in large-scale sheds, a survey has found.


The survey was conducted by pollsters Ipsos MORI on behalf of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).


The findings came as Nocton Dairies prepared to resubmit its planning application for an 8,100-cow "super-dairy" in Lincolnshire.


The Ipsos MORI survey also revealed that about half of all people who buy milk at least once a week said they associate it with the vision of cows grazing in a field (48%).


The WSPA said the dairy sector should involve the public when making decisions affecting milk production in Britain.


Intensive farming was not how British people wanted to get their milk and most people would not buy factory milk farmed in this way.


Smaller farms had much to lose if large-scale dairy herds were given the go-ahead, said Suzi Morris, WSPA UK director.


"People want to be able to support the average UK dairy farmer, as their jobs will become much harder if 'mega-dairies' are allowed to get through."


Should it be approved, the Nocton unit would be the largest intensive dairy farm in Western Europe.


The three farmers behind the scheme insist good animal welfare would top the agenda on the farm.


"Cows outdoors can end up with more foot problems and greater energy deficiency," said dairy consultant Graeme Surtees.


"What many people may not realise is that cows are creatures of habit and don't like change and that's why indoor housing can mean better welfare."


Cows would be housed in groups of 500 on sand beds, milked three times a day, low stocked and kept outdoors when dry during the summer, he added.