1. What is slaughter-free milk?
The entire dairy industry subsidised by slaughter industry – including organic milk.
The natural lifespan of a dairy cow is 17 -20yrs. The average lifespan of today’s dairy cow in the UK is only 5 years – their milk producing period, after which they are sent for slaughter.
Slaughter-free milk is where no cows, calves or bulls are ever sent for slaughter; they are protected for life and given freedom to roam on open pastures.
2. What is Ahimsa Slaughter-Free Milk Standard?
3. Where can I buy slaughter free milk?
As of July 2011, ‘Ahimsa’ slaughter-free milk will be available directly through Ahimsa Dairy Foundation through subscription for home delivery in North West London/Hertfordshire and local drop-off at select destinations around London.
You can subscribe here or via telephone on 07723 354527.
4. Where is the Ahimsa slaughter- free milk produced?
The Lotus Trust in partnership with OMSCO (Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative), and COMMONWORK (an environmental charity) in Kent where Ahimsa herd is maintained.
5. How much does it cost per litre?
The milk cost £2.25 per litre, and available in 2 litre bottles. The transport cost is an additional 50p/litre for delivery. Doorstep delivery areas and pickup point locations are limited in phase 1 of the project … details here
6. Why this milk is expensive compared to the conventional supermarket milk?
To answer this question we have to ask: is ‘conventional supermarket milk’ really cheap as it is displayed? Or does it have some hidden subsidies/COSTS? The answer to that is
- off-spring of cows are slaughtered to pay for your milk
- cows are treated very badly just as in industrial production house (in many cases, cows don’t even see the light of day or have access to open pastures/natural grass)
- The price of milk is subsidized by the supermarkets to lure customers into them because milk is the only produce which is part of everyone’s staple diet.
- Cost breakdown:
£1 – production, processing and bottling of milk
65p – pension fund, hospice cost, vet costs
30p – administration and overheads
30p – capital cost, reserve contingency fund
7. How can you assure us that the cows will be protected and will not be slaughtered in the event of a farm collapsing?
The cost of pension, hospice, vet and reserve contingency is built into the price of the milk. That gives us the buffer to protect the cows in the worst case scenario.
8. What are the benefits of slaughter free milk in comparison to organic milk?
Although cows are treated humanely on organic farms, cows on these farms are still sent for slaughter when they stop milking, and calves go into the veal industry. The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation has the health and well-being of cows for their full lives central to its core principles.
9. Where are retired cows and bulls sheltered?
After the cows stop milking, they along with the bulls are sent to a cow sanctuary for the rest of their lives. There, they are free to graze, fed and cared for till their final day.
10. In protecting the cows till their final days are we within the government’s animal welfare legislation?
A protocol has been agreed and established with DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to facilitate the care of cows till their final days.
11. Will the price of Ahimsa Milk decrease once the demand for the milk increases?
No. The price is not linked with the economies of scale. It is linked with the life-cycle of a cow.
12. If everyone drinks Ahimsa Milk then won’t we have too many cows and not enough fields to look after them all?
In a beef-eating country, where 95% of the population is non-vegetarian, we are unfortunately not spoilt for riches. But, suffice is to say that nature has its own way of accommodating every body in the life’s eco-system.
13. What is the actual cost of keeping one cow alive from birth to death?
It costs at least £350 + inflation to keep a non-milking cow alive each year. Take the average life of a cow to be 18 years, that costs £6,300 at present costs of maintenance.
14. Is there a subscription fee and if so why?
There is presently NO subscription fee, only a loyalty commitment for a minimum of 6 months
15. What if I subscribe to Ahimsa Milk and then after a couple of weeks/months decide to opt out, will that be a problem? I.E. is there a penalty charge?
The subscription model is based on minimum one year commitment via direct-debit. In the worst case scenario if you back out, then there will be termination fee.
It is important to understand that the basis of this project is sustainable milk development without harming the cows.
16. Should Ahimsa Milk taste differently from organic milk, because their diet and grazing should be the same?
We should be asking you this question as a part of our feed-back. We believe, happy cows produce good quality milk. The difference in taste is the peace of mind the consumer gets from knowing that the cow which has produced this milk will not be exploited or slaughtered at the end its life; it will be cared for.
17. Is the farmer making a profit from selling SFM and if so how?
The cost paid to farmer is similar to what he gets from Organic milk dealers. Since the cost of pension and hospice for retired cows is controlled by us, for the farmer it is a regular sustainable venture.
18. Are you making profit from the sale of SFM?
No, this project is run as a not-for-profit initiative meaning that it will cover its basic costs but not look to profit from the sale of milk. Any so called ‘profit’ will go into a reserve fund for the future welfare of cows.
19. What is the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation (ADF)?
In making slaughter-free milk a reality for the wider community and public at large, The Lotus Trust has supported the setting up of an independent not-for-profit organisation called the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation to focus specifically on the welfare of cows. Its objectives are:
· To establish an ‘Ahimsa Certified’ Marque for slaughter-free milk
· To pilot and model sustainable Ahimsa dairies and replicate them
· To make available Ahimsa milk in homes and to the public at large
· To support the establishment of Ahimsa dairies and ox-working farms
· To research into attributes of cow manure and develop related products to benefit the environment
· To take care or retired, pension and sick cows/calves/bulls
ADF collaborates closely with both ISKCON and The Lotus Trust, however, it is independent of both so it can work with a cross-section of organisations and will in the future be established as a separate cow welfare charity.
20. Presently how many cows are there in Ahimsa herd?
We have started this pilot project with 8 cows and it will go to 12 by the end of the first year. As the project progresses, we may add more to the herd apart from its natural growth.
21. What is the amount of milk produced from the present Ahimsa herd of 12 cows?
We expect 50,000 litres of milk/annum from this 12 cow herd.
22. What is reserve contingency fund?
If the farm breaks down, then this fund is used to find an alternative farm to house the cows in the Ahimsa herd.
23. If the cost of taking care of cows is so high, how will you control the herd population?
We will manage the growth of the herd by being selective about which cows should become pregnant. Not all cows will become pregnant and calve until we are sure of increasing the herd.
Commonwork use both natural method (a bull) and artificial insemination (this is not our preference) to inseminate cows and two-year cycle of lactation (meaning cows will give birth to cows once every two years to manage the herd size. With the help of OMSCO & Commonwork we hope to keep the herd size in control.
24. Where can we get this milk for trial purpose or test it out?
In future, you can buy this milk from the bakery at Manor. That way, you can taste and try this milk without subscribing. At major festivals, we will have small bottles for tasting.
25. Are we looking at having to ask people to consume less milk? Since the milk would be limited….
No. People can buy as much milk as possible from the super-markets. We provide a specialised high quality organic and ethical milk. Since, it is a pilot project with just 12 cows, the quantity of milk available from our end is limited. But as consistent demand grows, we can increase the size of the herd.
26. What happens to the bulls?
The bulls will be retired to sanctuaries. We will be exploring innovative ways of farming using oxen and researching into finding economically viable and sustainable solutions for keeping oxen.
27. Where will your sanctuaries be based?
Though we prefer to locate the sanctuaries near our existing farm, our first three calves will be sent to a sanctuary in West Wales late August/ early September.
28. Where is the present farm based?
It is based in Kent near Sevenoaks.
29. How many deliveries per week do you provide?
Up to 2 deliveries per week but it is also dependent on overall demand in your locality.
30. When can we adopt a cow?
Very soon, we will be provide a scheme to ‘adopt a cow’ (September)
31. When will value added products be available?
Very soon, we will announce the value added products availability including Ghee, Butter, Paneer, Yogurt, Cheese etc.,
32. Why can’t we buy Raw Milk from you?
Legally, only dairy farmers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can sell raw milk direct to the public. In Scotland, raw milk is totally banned. Hence, we cannot supply raw milk.
33. What is the difference between Raw Milk and Pasteurised Milk or Why is milk Pasteurised?
When milk is heated to 72 degrees centigrade for 25 seconds, it becomes pasteurised. Originally, this process was introduced to kill potentially harmful micro-organisms such as E.coli O157, Salmonella and Campylobacter.
However, according to the Food Standards Agency, there have been no reported outbreaks of food poisoning linked to milk (pasteurised or unpasteurised) in England and Wales since 2002. So, while the vulnerable or pregnant should still exercise caution, the risks appear to be low for everyone else.
34. What type of cows are in the herd?
Swedish Red, Montbalyier, Holstein
4 Key Messages
1) Our milk is more expensive because it is a top quality product and our cows are never killed when they are too old to give milk.
2) Our cows are allowed to have a happy retirement when they are too old to give milk and they are never sent to an abattoir.
3) We are exploring innovative ways of working with bulls and our male calves are never killed or sold for veal.
4) We strive to produce Ahimsa milk with total compassion and respect for cows and bulls as living creatures.
Ahimsa Dairy Foundation – a new charity set up specifically for the welfare of cows and to help dairies to transition to the Ahimsa Standard of no slaughter of cows, calves or bulls.