An endearing piece on Farming Today a little while back, an interview with a West Country dairy farmer. As everyone knows, dairy farming is a dire business. You work all hours, never have a holiday, milk the herd two or even three times a day, pay huge feed bills to maximize yield, and at the end of it all you may, if you're lucky, get a one or two percent profit. Most of the time you'll be losing money, though.
The guy in question applied the old brain juice to this and thought, "That's a bit daft. How did they do it in the old days? Didn't they just stick a couple of cows in a field and let them eat grass?" So that's what he did. Stuck his cows in a field and let them eat grass.
And only milks them once a day.
Because the cows aren't being milked dry, some of the grass they eat actually does what it's meant to do, i.e. keeping them alive and well. Consequently, they don't look like a bag of bones precariously balanced on a bloody great floating mine and they've got the wherewithal to cobble together the odd antibody, so they resist disease and the farm's veterinary bills are modest. Feed costs are zero and the milk is organic, so it fetches a better price. Yield is half that of neighbouring farms, but the profit is 50% rather than one or two percent. Chap has probably got the odd moment to walk the dog and enjoy life a bit, too.
Funny old world, isn't it? Those old boys, they just stuck a couple of cows in a field and let them get on with it. I wonder what gave them that peculiar idea?
* (If you’re none too sure what a squib is, click here).
Causes Charles Davis Supports
Oxfam, Amnesty International, Greenpeace