We had some friends over last night. The talk turned to the recent Panorama programme, where apparently great pains were taken to show intensive cows being cared for well. Every aspect of their environment, feed and well-being controlled; even a vet in situ. Of course it is in the best interests in all those with a stake in the proposed huge Nocton Dairies unit, to convince the public that there is nothing wrong with the idea of thousands of cows kept in this way. No doubt, pulling some strings too somewhere are the supermarkets who want the guarantee of a milk supply without having to put up with the occasional disgruntled protests of under-paid dairy farmers.
But we spoke last night about the day (usually in April in these parts) when the cows are put out for summer. Once seen never forgotten. They are joyful - they run and jump and kick their heels. They rediscover the taste of grass. No zero-grazing system could replicate that. None of us last night are sentimental about farming, but all smiled at the thought of that - and all of us were indignant that this natural cycle - the time when the cows go out, the time when they are brought in for winter - should be eroded.