Elgaar Farms responds on bobby calves
Thank you for your email, and thank you for your positive feedback – always great to hear! We’re really happy to be part of the zero waste trial you are organizing – I agree that Elgaar Farm’s returnable packaging is very compatible with minimizing waste and pollution.
Your friend’s concerns regarding treatment of cows and calves in the conventional dairy industry are entirely justified. However, at Elgaar Farm there is a great emphasis on the ethical and humane treatment of animals. We are currently preparing a brochure (and we are also in the process of updating our website to include this for download) which details our farming and dairying practices. In the meantime, here are a few answers to your questions:
- We are one of the only (if not the only) dairy farms in Australia that let the calves suckle naturally on their mothers for an extended period of time (2 to 4 months) and we also let the calves run with the herd (and therefore their mothers) from then on.
- Our male calves are reared as above, and those that are not kept as replacement bulls (we have several bulls with the herd) are sent to a local abattoir after a period of 2 to 4 months spent with their mother and the rest of the dairy herd. This is an unavoidable part of dairy farming, but we have approached this in a manner that attempts to minimise the stress normally associated with this. Amongst other things, we employ a livestock carrier that treats the animals with care and we do not allow at any time the use of electrical cattle prods or anything that may cause undue stress to the animals during loading and transportation. But the most significant method by which we have reduced the need to sent animals to the abattoir is the fact that most of our cows lactate for more than one year, some up to three years.
- The average Australian dairy cow is sold off to the meatworks after four years of milking, but Elgaar Farm’s work for up to a decade. Once they are deemed too old for milking duties, retirement means grazing the paddocks for the rest of their natural life, though most still front up for the twice-daily milking routine – old habits die hard. In fact, one of their cows lived to 38. The fact our cows lactate for a long period does not in any way affect their health or condition in a negative way. In fact, the ancestors of our modern day cows only calved every two years or so due to the long gestation period of a bovine (9 months). This is still a common dairy practice in Europe, and is also becoming increasingly popular in other areas of the world. The 12 month calving pattern of the modern dairy is an un-natural method primarily developed to boost individual milk production in modern breeds of cows and is also to increase the amount of calves available for replacement heifers (due to short, so called ‘useful’ lifespan of conventional dairy cows, i.e. four years). Our cows produce milk happily for up to three years and are always healthy (and happy – at least as far as we can tell – they behave in a very contented and stress-free manner).
- The Elgaar cows graze in paddocks where grasses are mixed with herbs such as shepherds purse, self heal, chicory and Persian clover. Like all the farm’s crops, the pastures are never sprayed with artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.
- The Jersey cows that graze on this green smorgasbord clearly thrive on the farm and enjoy a surprisingly long life. Any ailments are treated with homeopathic remedies, and we pride ourselves on the fact that it is ten years since we last had to call a vet – even then that was just to help with a difficult birth.
- Elgaar Farm does not use animal derived rennet in the production of cheese. The microbial rennet we use is certified non-animal derived and ge-free and is produced by a Danish company (Chr. Hansen). The particular type of microbial enzyme rennet used by Elgaar Farm is produced in a laboratory only from plant derived ingredients. Absolutely no Elgaar Farm cheese is produced with the use of animal derived rennet and all Elgaar Farm products are suitable for vegetarians.
I hope that this at least partly answers your questions. I will send a copy of the brochure previously mentioned as soon as we have finished preparing it.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should there be anything we can be of assistance with. Again, thank you for your enquiry, we love hearing from you.
Deloraine Tasmania 7304
Our e-mail to Elgaar Farms
Dear Anton and Elgaar friends
My name is Neesh from Melbourne and I am part of the ethical consumer group (www.ethical.org).
We LOVE your products and LOVE your returned/recycled packaging. Great stuff!
We are gathering a group of people together to attempt a zero waste trial for one week later in the year. Of course we will be publicising your products due to the awesome zero waste packaging and ORGANIC too!
I have read some of your bio on the internet, however, someone had a question about the relationship between calves and mothers and time spent together etc. and what happens to the calves … I am not too savvy about dairy farming so hopefully you can help out. I think it’s great you milk them for 10years+.
Sounds like a really awesome dairy farm, keep up the fabulous products and work and good karma!