Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

'I’ve even seen them cry': Vegetarian farmer saves his cattle from abattoir by donating them to animal sanctuary

“Cows have good memories and a range of emotions. They form relationships. I’ve even seen them cry,” Mr Wilde said.

Beth Timmins

A herd of cows from the UK East Midlands will be mooing a sigh of relief thanks the kindness of their owner, vegetarian farmer Jay Wilde who has sent them to live out their days in an animal sanctuary.

Leaving their old cattle sheds at Bradley Nook Farm in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, the 59 cows were rehomed in Norfolk at the Hillside Animal Sanctuary on Monday.

A vegetarian for a total of 25 years, Mr Wilde told The Times that he found it “very difficult to do your best to look after them and then send them to the slaughterhouse for what must be a terrifying death.”

After growing up on the farm, the 59-year-old took over the business in 2011 when his father died. Mr Wilde also made the change from producing dairy goods to organic beef.

But he decided that he wanted to clear his conscience and profit no more from sending his cows to the slaughter house.

“I’m relieved to have made the decision to no longer farm animals, something which I always found quite upsetting,” Mr Wilde said.

“Cows have good memories and a range of emotions. They form relationships. I’ve even seen them cry.”

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The herd, worth £40,000 at market, will avoid the abattoir to join the sanctuary’s 300 cattle and 2,000 horses, donkeys and ponies. Mr Wilde has kept ten as “pets.”

Mr Wilde was told by his brother-in-law that he was “absolutely insane” to donate the herd, 30 of which are pregnant.

The founder of the sanctuary, Wendy Valentine, said Mr Wilde’s cattle could now enjoy their full 25-year lifespans rather than reaching the slaughter age of two to three years. 

The sanctuary was started in 1995 to draw attention to the effects of factory farming and needs to raise a minimum of £5m per year to continue to care for the animals. 

The donation was organised by the Vegan Society and Mr Wilde now plans to farm organic vegetables free of animal products and fertilisers to sell in the flourishing vegan market.

Tom Kuehnel, the Vegan Society's campaign officer, told The Independent: "Jay is a real pioneer, which we hope will inspire other farmers to move towards more compassionate and sustainable farming methods that don't involve animals."

Independent News Service

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