When Hanni hears her proprietor’s name, she is aware of it’s time for supper and comes trotting over in glad anticipation of a spherical of hay and lukewarm water.
Hanni is an 18-year-old cow residing on a farm run by Karin Mueck and Jan Gerdes in Butjadingen, in northern Germany. That makes Hanni a fortunate cow as a result of right here, animals will not be milked or slaughtered.
The farm was in Gerdes’ household for generations and he took it on from his mother and father. Initially he continued operating it as a traditional farm, earlier than switching to natural farming.
However that didn’t make him any happier, he says, as he was conscious that the cows would nonetheless wind up being slaughtered in the long run.
Lastly, 20 years in the past, he determined to transform the farm right into a retirement residence for animals, counting on donations for funding. He’s at the moment caring for 38 cows. Hanni has already been right here for 9 years.
The animals come from broadly differing backgrounds. A few of them spent years working as dairy cows whereas others come from animal testing laboratories or circuses.
Others had been introduced right here by vets, like Chaya, a brown-and-white noticed cow. She fought so exhausting towards being slaughtered that the veterinarian introduced her to Butjadingen as an alternative, Gerdes says.
Some even jumped throughout the ditch that runs between the farm and the property subsequent door. “We additionally allow them to keep,” Gerdes provides with a smile.
For Gerdes and Mueck, all animals, whether or not they’re canine or pigs or cows, are worthy of respect and first rate therapy, however that is not often given to cattle.
They deserve higher, says Gerdes. “All of them have friendships, they’ve fears, they will expertise ache or disappointment and pleasure,” he explains.
Dairy cows are nearly continuously pregnant all through their total lives, says Gerdes. “They’re forcefully inseminated when they’re solely two years previous and technically nonetheless kids themselves, and already must bear calves.” After start, cow and calf are instantly separated.
Many within the trade defend the best way cows are handled. In response to Hans Foldenauer, spokesperson for the German Dairy Farmers Affiliation (BDM), “common calving is a totally pure course of and doesn’t hurt the cows”.
Christine Licher of the Dairy Business State Affiliation believes that every one farmers care concerning the well-being of their animals, however additionally they have to think about the financial facet of animal husbandry. She says whereas cows these days produce extra milk than earlier than, that doesn’t imply they’re topic to extra stress.
Farmers within the rural state of Decrease Saxony, the place Butjadingen is positioned, produced over 4.8 billion litres of milk yearly between 2001 and 2010, in accordance with the Agriculture Ministry. Final yr, that determine rose to some 6.2 billion litres.
Of Germany’s herds, many are dairy cows. Nationwide, there are some 2.4 million cows, with 820,000 of them working to generate dairy merchandise.
Some are actually calling for stricter minimal necessities for livestock farming and particular laws for dairy cows.
Whereas detailed laws govern the husbandry of pigs, laying hens and calves, no particular legal guidelines apply to how dairy cows are farmed, says nutritionist Anneke von Reeken, a shopper affairs knowledgeable from the state of Decrease Saxony.
She advises consumers to purchase natural milk which at the very least ensures that farmers let their cows outdoors and provides them more room indoors. Tethering is barely permitted in distinctive instances.
Dangerous situations have left many cows affected by joint issues like osteoarthritis, in accordance with Gerdes and Mueck.
They hope youthful generations will form the long run in a extra sustainable means.
In spite of everything, once you learn kids’s books, cattle are glad creatures that spend their days cantering about meadows, says Mueck.
She says colleges ought to train kids the a lot much less nice actuality by taking kids to see what occurs in slaughterhouses, as soon as they’re sufficiently old.
Persons are creating extra strain now, Gerdes says, although but extra change is required for extra animals sooner or later to have the ability to stay the form of lives that Hanni at the moment enjoys. – dpa/Demy Becker