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Animal Rights Fight to "Keep Cows on Grass"

Growth of European "mega-dairies" threaten to confine cows, permanently

Common Dreams staff

Animal rights groups want to keep cows in fields, where they belong. (Photo by I-Man--10N via Flickr)

Cows are vanishing from the rolling pastures of the European landscape. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has joined forces with Ben & Jerry's and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) in a new campaign to draw attention to the disappearance.

The international animal welfare charity has launched "Keep Cows on Grass" to highlight the growth of "mega-dairies" in the European Union. As the world's largest producing region of cow's milk, european dairy farmers are intensifying the productivity of each cow by moving them indoors, permanently.

A press release by the WSPA says:

We want to halt the development of intensive dairy farming in the European Union. Failure to act on this threat represents a high risk of irreversible change with extreme consequences for our food, farmers and communities, locally and nationally.

As the trend towards intensification grows rapidly and cows increasingly become housed indoors permanently – it is becoming more common that cows never get to chew a blade of fresh grass.

In the Netherlands, one of the world’s largest milk producers, a third of cows are now kept indoors. Up from 16 percent ten years ago, now 67 percent of cows in Denmark are kept inside as well.

Compassion in World Farming reports reserach that shows "that this type of 'zero-grazing' system is associated with increased risk of many health problems including lameness, mastitis, reproductive problems and a number of bacterial infections".

This "Better Dairy" coalition is asking european consumers to "pressure retailers by asking questions about the origins of their milk and the animals that supply it," to counter the spread of the burgeoning myth that—as on dairy representative told a BBC reporter—that "cows do not belong in fields."

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