Zero grazing: the myth of cows out to pasture
Zero grazing is already the norm in some parts of the UK, as Viva!’s investigation into 15 dairy farms that supply Cadbury shows. See what we found at www.milkmyths.org.uk/ animal-welfare/cadbury A report by the European Food Safety Authority states: “If dairy cows are not kept on pasture for parts of the year, ie they are permanently on this grazing system, there is an increased risk of lameness, hoof problems, teat tramp, mastitis, metritis, dystocia, ketosis, retained placenta and some bacterial infections” (EFSA, 2009). This type of 'grazing' is in effect a permanent extension of winter when all cows are kept indoors and never graze in fields. Usually kept in large herds, cows have rows of ‘bedding’ areas in the sheds and may or may not have access to outside yards. Some intensive farms keep cows tethered in their stalls permanently, allowing them out only to go to the milking parlour. The poor animals are entirely deprived of their natural environment, which can lead to abnormal behavior, further stress, disease and aggression.
So, is zero grazing so bad? Well, yes. It's not the naughty step for cows. Increasingly, cows out to pasture are rare. Keeping them indoors year-round is becoming the norm. You can help by switching from dairy to plant milks. We'll show you how later on in the guide.