World Society for the Protection of Animals

‘Mega-dairy’ plan dropped but more to fight

At the Food Animal Initiative (FAI) farm in Wytham, UK, a herd of 120 pedigree Saler and Saler X is kept. The breed has been chosen for its ease of calving, good mothering ability and longevity

WSPA and Lincolnshire residents are delighted after successfully fighting off a proposal to build a massive, dairy cow ‘battery farm’. The planned dairy was the second such scheme in less than a year for the county.

Read about WSPA and intensive dairy farming in today’s Independent >>

The proposal for the 3,000 dairy cow ‘’mega-dairy’ at South Witham near Grantham in Lincolnshire is the second in less than a year for this type of farm in the county. Worryingly, the two applicants are not linked.

Velmur Ltd, the company behind the South Witham proposal had already failed to turn up for a meeting with the local residents and address their worries about the proposed site.

Simon Pope, WSPA UK Head of External Affairs said: “WSPA is very proud to have supported the community of South Witham in their efforts to see off this particular mega-dairy proposal, which would have been right on their doorstep.

“When we attended the public meeting, we were given a warm welcome by villagers who wanted to learn more about the animal welfare implications of these types of dairies. Our firm belief is that British people do not want factory milk from cows farmed in this industrial way.”


A rise in intensive dairy farming in the UK

Change is spreading within the UK dairy farming industry - and not for the better. WSPA feels that the time has come where we need to step up our involvement in the UK farming debate.

Specifically, we feel it is our job to fight the growing pressure the UK dairy farming industry is under to adopt a US-style intensive farming method. This seems a huge step to backwards to WSPA.

At a time when UK consumers are no longer willing to tolerate battery hens, why do some elements of the farming industry think they would be ok with 'battery cows'?

There are already a couple of large, intensive dairies in Britain, but nothing of the scale being proposed at Nocton. While the South Witham dairy plans have been dropped – for now at least – the Nocton Dairies plan is still going ahead, despite problems with their planning application.

If the Nocton Dairies plan gets through when they resubmit their plans later in the year, it will set in motion the development of the UK’s first  ‘super dairy’ which will hold around 8,100 cows.

This is also worryingly indicative of a growing global trend towards industrialisation of the dairy industry - recently New Zealand fought off plans for a US-style dairy farm.

The welfare problems

Based on the US industrial model, operations of this scale and structure make their profits by working their assets as hard as possible, placing enormous pressure on the cows.

Antibiotics, stress, fear and aggression are a routine feature of these herds’ lives.

Cows housed in these types of indoor, industrial dairies spend the vast majority of their lives indoors, housed in cubicles, with little – if any – access to grazing. They run a higher risk of suffering health and welfare problems than pasture-based cows.

The cows also tend to lose their worth after about five milking cycles, wrung dry at too early an age

What is WSPA doing to fight this?

We will be working more on this over the coming months, undertaking thorough research to back up our welfare, environmental and economic arguments.

We strongly believe there is an alternative, more positive future for the UK dairy farming industry, which places good animal welfare at its heart, but can still work for farmers and consumers alike.

One of the first things we intend to do is to run some consumer education on the truth behind our milk (the good and the bad) and why we will never be able to tackle the dairy industry welfare problems if we unilaterally adopt US 'mega dairies'.

How you can help

WSPA will need you if we are to stop US-style dairy farming taking over Britain. We will be asking you to take action soon.

Please send your details to if you would like to register as a local champion for our campaign.

Alternatively, if you are more at home online and want to become a virtual champion, please email us at

There will also be dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages for the campaign, with more info and actions that you can take to help us stop 'battery cow' dairy farming spreading any further in the UK.


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