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Cattle posts

Organic smallholdings, not ‘farm-free’ food factories

Chris Smaje of Vallis Veg | 13-Nov-2022 | 3

Another critical review of George Monbiot’s latest book, Regenesis, by Chris Smaje, author of Small Farm Future. This follows on from last week’s review by Simon Fairlie. Read more

‘Monbiotic man’ – will future food be ‘farm-free’?

Simon Fairlie starts a series of articles about whether technology will save us. He supports small farmers over George Monbiot’s ‘Regenesis’ solution. Read more

We need to completely close down industrial animal agriculture

Dave Darby of | 16-Aug-2020 | 14

Industrial agriculture is cruel to animals, cruel to people who work in it, it damages the environment and concentrates wealth in very few hands. I guess if you’re reading this, you know that already, and I don’t have to explain it. The problem is, it’s still there, doing its vile stuff every day. What do… Continue reading We need to completely close down industrial animal agriculture Read more

Our policy on keeping animals & eating meat

Dave Darby of | 10-May-2020 | 106

Our topics include vegetarianism and veganism, but also keeping animals (for meat, dairy, eggs, honey, wool, leather, work etc); and also fishing and hunting animals in the wild. Is this incongruous? As a sustainability / new economy organisation, should we be promoting only veganism, rather than the keeping and/or eating of animals? Read more

Life on Birchwood Croft: tales of smallholding in the Scottish Highlands

Lesley Anderson of | 10-Jan-2019 | 0

Lesley Anderson learns about the ups and downs of life for crofters Beth and Tim Rose in the Scottish Highlands. Read more

Is eating meat ethical or sustainable? Interview with Simon Fairlie, author of ‘Meat: A Benign Extravagance’

We are sometimes approached by people asking why we provide information on vegetarianism, veganism and keeping animals. Isn’t that a bit incongruous? We don’t think it is Read more

Making raw cultured butter from grass-fed Jersey milk

I made some winter butter this winter from the raw milk of my grass-fed Jersey cows. Butter made in the depths of the bleak midwinter from winter milk is a deeply flavoured, rich, indulgent treat. Read more

Cow-calf dairying part 8: weaning

This is the last in a series of posts about how to run a small dairy herd without separating the calves from their mothers. This final article is about preparing the cows and calves for a stress-free weaning. Read more

Cow-calf dairying part 7: introducing milking without the calf suckling

When a lamb or calf suckles, they bunt their mum’s udder with their heads to stimulate release of more milk. If you are share-milking, as a calf grows this bunting can quickly become so strong that it can easily knock the cluster off the other three teats. Read more

In praise of the wheelbarrow: low-impact transportation at its best?

Perhaps these days most commonly associated with the garden, there’s more to the humble wheelbarrow than you might think. Sophie Paterson explores its potential, past and present, as a low-impact form of transportation. Read more

Does the sustainability of meat production depend on the size of a holding and the number of animals kept on it?

Dave Darby of | 03-Dec-2017 | 84

I want to investigate at what size meat production becomes unsustainable (in terms of acreage, number of animals etc.) – i.e. whether it can be sustainable at all, and if so, whether there’s an upper limit, above which it can’t be sustainable Read more

Cow-calf dairying part 6: share milking

I have found that the first few days after a heifer has calved are critical when it comes to creating a positive association with feeding her calf and being milked by machine.  Read more

Cow-calf dairying part 5: creating a bond and first milking

This is where we get to the nitty-gritty of cow-calf dairying, looking at creating a bond and the first milking; but it’s important that you have understood the whole series so far (see right or click here) before reading on, as much of what is covered here relates to points made before. Read more

What’s the best thing to do with the uplands, in terms of sustainability?

Emma Olliff of RegenerEat | 14-Nov-2017 | 19

This is a question asked in an interesting debate on Facebook along the lines of uplands and their appropriate maintenance with regards to grazing. There are several fascinating projects and opinion pieces that were linked to Read more

Cow-calf dairying part 4: udder development

Welcome to part 4 of this series on cow-calf dairying, focusing on udder development. By now you will be starting to understand that keeping calves on dairy cows is a fine art; that it is a case of balancing the emotional and physical needs of both cow and calf; and why there are no set… Continue reading Cow-calf dairying part 4: udder development Read more

Cow-calf dairying part 3: calf rumen development

Here, in part 3 of our series on dairying without removing calves from their mothers, we look at the importance of managing a calf’s nutrition in order to support the effective calf rumen development, essential to her long-term health and productivity. Read more

Is it ethical to eat meat, or to keep animals for meat or dairy?

Dave Darby of | 15-Oct-2017 | 289

This is a very important question for us here at, because we have courses, books, magazines, links etc on keeping animals and on game. We also have vegetarianism and veganism as topics – because we recognise the environmental benefits of eating less meat. Read more

Cow-calf dairying part 2: how cows produce and give milk, and why they need their calves

In this second post in the series from the Smiling Tree cow-calf dairy we focus on how milk is synthesised and, importantly for cow-calf dairying, what triggers the release or ‘let down’ process. Read more

Cow-calf dairying part 1: the difference between conventional and humanely-produced milk

This is the first in a series of articles looking at the practicalities of producing ethical, cruelty-free milk by allowing dairy cows to keep their calves. In this post we cover why conventional dairy cows don’t keep their calves and why humanely-produced milk using cow-calf dairying is rare and costs much more to produce. Read more

How the study of animal behaviour (ethology) can help you keep livestock more ethically and sustainably

Lesley Anderson of | 12-Sep-2017 | 1

I want to talk about something which can help us design more ethical and sustainable ways of keeping our livestock. It is a subject that has always fascinated me and, if you keep animals, I think you will find it fascinating too. It is the is the study the behaviour of animals, particularly in their… Continue reading How the study of animal behaviour (ethology) can help you keep livestock more ethically and sustainably Read more

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