As a demonstration farm under public scrutiny, animal well-being is a high priority at Owl Farm. We have a number of different strategies in place to ensure our animals are being looked after properly.
- Less than 15% involuntary culls (includes empty cows, those culled due to health reasons, or who die)
- All cows are mated with a clear breeding objective to provide a valuable calf reared past 4 days of age
- Replacement rate of heifers entering the herd is 21% of the total herd number each year
- All calves receive adequate colostrum within their first 24 hours, as shown through blood protein samples
- Cows’ welfare needs are met through provision of shade and shelter, and medical attention when necessary
- Cows’ body condition score is monitored four times throughout the year, with no cow below BCS 3.5
- Annual tail score audit is carried out to ensure change in status remains less than 2%
Animal Well-being Stories
Lameness can cause cows distress which in turn reduces their overall health. Significant investment has been made in the farm's races to ensure the cows walk on good surfaces that do not hurt their feet, and farm staff swiftly treat any animals that become lame.
A tail audit is an annual check, carried out by our vet, to see if any cows have damaged tails. This can happen for a number of reasons, as cows interact with their natural environment, and it is a good indication of handling and facilities for animal welfare.
Body Condition Score (BCS) is a standardised assessment of the 'condition' a cow is carrying - how fat or thin she is. Being too fat can cause as many problems to a cow's health as being too thin, so it is important to keep the cows within certain parameters for their best health.
Cows suffer from excessive heat just as we do, and will seek out shade wherever possible during the summer. If they become too hot, they stop eating and milk production falls. Click below to read about the things Owl Farm does to help the cows keep their cool....
We seek to ensure that all calves born in the Owl Farm herd have a purposeful life. To this end, our breeding programme incorporates the use of specific types of bought-in semen, such as sexed semen, Wagyu or Angus.