One of the 59 cows donated to Hillside Animal Sanctuary by a vegetarian farmer who could no longer bear to send them to the slaughterhouse has given birth to beautiful twin calves.
Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk witnessed the first calves being born this morning after Derbyshire-based former ‘beef’ farmer Jay Wilde gave away his herd to the sanctuary last month, 30 of which were pregnant at the time.
The farmer decided to stop farming animals and switch to growing crops for human consumption after reading The Vegan Society’s Grow Green report and meeting with the charity.
Mr Wilde, a vegetarian for 25 years, grew up herding cows and took over the family farm when his father died. He then switched from dairy farming to organic beef production on the death of his father in 2011, but said he always wanted to give up animal production because he “couldn’t believe it was right to eat them”.
He believes dairy farming is particularly hard because calves and cows would often become distressed on separation.
Speaking about his decision to donate his herd to the sanctuary, Mr Wilde said: “Cows have good memories and a range of emotions. They form relationships. I’ve even seen them cry. It was very difficult to do your best to look after them and then send them to the slaughterhouse for what must be a terrifying death.”
Mr Wilde will now be running a vegan organic market farm supplying garden produce without using animal products or fertilisers.
Vegan sanctuary Hillside Animal Sanctuary wrote in its newsletter today: “We have had great excitement here today, as the first twin calves were born safely, to one of the cows that came to us from Jay, the vegetarian farmer who could no longer bear to send his beloved cows to the slaughterhouse.”
Founder, Wendy Valentine, said Mr Wilde is not the first farmer to have donated his herd. She recalls a couple who “could not bear to continue dairy farming and kept their cows as pets with the help of the sanctuary”.
The calves with now get to live out their natural lifespan of approximately 20 years instead of being slaughtered at a young age.
Tom Kuehnel, Campaigns Officer at The Vegan Society, said:
“It was a great moment in the office when we found out the first calves were born today – we are all delighted to see them happy and healthy. The lucky calves will spend their lives being cared for at the sanctuary; unfortunately cows in the meat and dairy industries never get to experience such freedom. We hope that this story has touched people’s hearts and that they will offer support to both the sanctuary that is looking after the cows and Jay who chose compassion over profit.”
Hillside is hosting an open day this Sunday, 23rd July, from 1-5pm, with a free entry. For more details please visit www.hillside.org.uk.