Dairy farmer who retired cows to sanctuary turns to ethical oat milk production

Read Time:   |  24th August 2020

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A dairy farmer who retired his entire herd of cows to an animal sanctuary when he could no longer bear sending them to slaughter is now transitioning to produce oat milk


Former dairy farmer Jay Wilde, who famously sent his herd of cattle to a Norfolk rescue centre when he could no longer bear to send them to be killed, is now moving towards oat milk production for ethical reasons.

Mr Wilde, a vegetarian for 25 years, inherited a cattle farm when his father passed away, but made the decision to send most of the herd to the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norwich when he could no longer bring himself to send the animals to be killed.

Speaking about the reasons behind his decision, 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.”

His story was featured in a short film entitled 73 Cows which won in the Best Short Film category at this year’s BAFTA Film Awards.

‘Sustainable and profitable’

Mr Wilde, who switched from dairy farming to organic beef production on the death of his father in 2011, said he always wanted to give up animal production because he “couldn’t believe it was right to eat them”.

Wilde and his wife Katja are the first farmers to team up with Refarm’d, an organisation which helps dairy farmers make the switch to producing plant milks.

“We spent time finessing our business model so we could ensure producing oat milk was sustainable and profitable – alongside providing us with a cruelty-free source of income. Adding another form of non-animal-based food production to our business with the help of Refarm’d means we have a solid future,” Wilde said in a statement to Plant-Based News.

Mr Wilde said that customers will soon be able to purchase the oat milk produced at Bradley Nook Farm ‘throughout areas of England under a sustainable business model where it will be provided in returnable glass bottles’.

He said: “We’re thrilled that not only are we now working in a more ethical way, but we can also continue to support the 17 cows in our retired herd who still live with us at the farm.”


‘New model of animal sanctuaries’

Speaking to Plant Based News about the reasons why she founded the organisation, CEO of Refarm’d, Geraldine Starke, said that she wanted to find a way to alleviate the pressure on animal sanctuaries taking in victims of the farming industry.

Refarm’d works with farmers like Jay Wilde to help them to transition from milk production to producing plant-based drinks as well as helping them to convert their farmland into animal sanctuaries.

“I always wanted to create a new model of animal sanctuaries that would not be dependent on donations, volunteers and require the use of more resources from a highly resource-consuming industry,” she said.

“But I also wanted these sanctuaries to have a direct impact on animal exploitation. We can’t continue saving animals if the animal farming industry continues to bring new lives into this earth, by the billions, each year.”

Moving away from dairy

With Refarm’d, Starke aims to show farmers there is another viable business model that does not exploit sentient beings, which she believes is key to getting farmers on board with the changes.

“It also helps the farmer connect to his animals on another level, where they don’t need to put any monetary value on them, and can truly see them for the individuals they are, who like uoptimizetrive to enjoy their lives,” she said.

According to Refarm’d’s website, “By uniting together with farmers and providing them with the tools they need to move away from the dairy trade, we’re offering a viable new opportunity for their businesses to be part of the growing plant-based movement.”

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