The practice of de-horning cattle is one which we do not engage in at Mossgiel Organic Farm. The practice is widespread within conventional farming with the intent of making life on the farm safer for farm workers and other livestock.
When Farmer Bryce took over Mossgiel Farm and converted it to be an Organic Dairy Farm, he stopped the practice of de-horning the cattle. Farmer Bryce came in for some stick from other Farmers who thought he was being reckless with his own safety and the safety of the others on the Farm. He contends that there are ways to manage cattle that do not rely on mutilating them.
What we have found though is that Cows that eat a natural diet of grass are not as frisky as those who are fed on a diet of cereals. They are more chilled out.
In order to change a Farm from de-horning to leaving the horns on the Cows, sheds must be changed to accommodate this. In one Farm that we are speaking to, this change carries a likely bill of around £50,000. This is the economic reality of such campaigns. Public opinion would much prefer this more humane option, but with such price tags attached with no resultant increase in production to offset the outlay, it is understandable why there is so little traction on this issue; especially in such uncertain economic times.
Our Gold Standard Milk is produced exclusively from the Cows at Mossgiel Farm, rather from the collective of Mossgiel, Osliebrae and Drumsmodden, as our Whole Milk and Semi-skimmed Milk is. It carries a premium in price. This is mostly due to our Calf-At-Foot policy leaving us with less Milk to sell to our customers: young Calves are thirsty beasts! This premium is, in part, also due to our policy of not de-horning our Cows. The investment made in the infrastructure needs to be made back.
This brings us back to the concept of commercial campaigning.