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26th August, 2013

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Our Cows

Our Cows and the lovely people that care for them.

Gary & Linda Wright, Barton Farm.

We have been dairy farming since 1991, we sold our house and bought a herd of cows and took on the tenancy of The Barton, Kentisbury. We bought 41 cows from a herd in Wales, the farmer travelled with them to our farm and stayed for the weekend to see them settled in and to help milk them until we knew the cows.We didn't come from a farming background, my dad was a builder and Gary's dad was an engineer, but we both wanted to go farming, we both worked on the same farm when we left school.

My dad had a small holding and he had 2 pet cows, instead of pocket money dad would buy me a calf, in 1992 my dad was diagnosed with cancer and as he wasted away we took on his 2 pet cows to look after, he died in the sept, but we looked after his cows and when they got old I couldn't bear to send them away, so we had them put to sleep on the farm when the time came, ever since then any of our old cows retired here on the farm and either dies peacefully in her sleep or is put to sleep if suffering. Most live onto to at least 16, Milly my favourite cow, lived until she was 17 and had been retired 3 years previously to that.

We have full accountability of every cow that's ever lived here on the farm, with records dating back to 1991 since we started, every animal can be traced and is well loved and cherished, they are like family, cow families,they all have they're own personalities and own little quirks, they lie in the same beds, come in the parlour in the same order and mother and daughters stay together in the herd and even come in one behind the other in the milking parlour.

15 months ago we started working with Cow Nation supplying slaughter-free milk. 10 cows were allocated within our herd, sexed-semen would be used and all progeny male or female would be kept until the end of their days, all heifers would come into the herd and all bull calves once weaned would be looked after by Cow Nation, calves are allowed to wean naturally keeping on the cow for up to 8 months and then the old Granny cows look after them, as even once retired they love to look after calves, the Granny cows and the calves then graze together.

All cows live outside for as long as possible during the year only being housed during the worst of the winters, even the oldest Granny cow will still kick up her heels the first day of spring when they're let out, its the best day of the year to see them running and skipping like race horses up the field.

Every cow is well-loved here and her calf, everything possible is done for them. We once poulticed a cows leg for 4 months, daily, as the vet wanted us to shoot her as she had an abscess and could no™t walk. My daughter Emily poulticed that leg, bribing Noddy with cake to stand still, we had her on a deep, straw bed with 2 calves on her to keep her company and finally it was a very proud moment to see Noddy walk down the road with the cows again.

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