We have some serious concerns about dairy cattle welfare and have been working in a number of ways to try to improve the lives of dairy cattle.
The modern dairy cow is our hardest working farm animal.
- Cattle are primarily grazing animals (i.e. they eat grasses and other low-down vegetation) that ruminate (chew the cud). They spend up to nine hours every day grazing/eating and long periods resting and ruminating.
- Cattle are social animals and in some circumstances they can find isolation from other cattle stressful.
- They form strong social hierarchies (‘pecking orders’) within their herds with some animals being more dominant than others.
- Being prey animals, cattle always keep a safe ’flight distance’ from anything they think could be a threat.
- They have a wide field of vision, sensitive hearing and a strong sense of smell with which to detect possible predators.
- Because they are prey animals, they have evolved to not show easily recognisable signs of suffering. For example, sick or injured cattle may not vocalise loudly because, in the wild, this could attract the attention of a predator. This lack of expression means that people sometimes don’t notice subtle changes in behaviour that may indicate cattle are in pain or distress.
If you’re concerned about the welfare of dairy cattle then find out how you can help improve their lives.