Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Lincolnshire 'super dairy' cow welfare fears

Animal welfare groups are opposing plans to build the UK's largest dairy farm in Lincolnshire.

Nocton Dairies has submitted plans to house up to 9,000 cattle in a super dairy on land outside the village of Nocton, near Lincoln.

Compassion in World Farming and The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) fear the intensive system will give cows a short lifespan.

The firm said the dairy would have the "highest" welfare standards.

The animal welfare groups said the proposal would mean the "industrialisation of a traditionally pasture-based system", with cows mainly kept indoors.

We need to find a better way to support Britain's dairy farmers
Suzi Morris

They said the system would produce cows suffering from lameness, poor body condition and infertility.

Suzi Morris, of WSPA UK, said: "Cows at this level of productivity are at high risk of a short lifespan.

"Even if these problems can be avoided by professional management, the cows are likely to be kept indoors for most of the year and spend most of their time processing food to maintain high levels of milk production.

"We need to find a better way to support Britain's dairy farmers to deliver larger quantities of milk to the consumer without sacrificing welfare standards."

Nocton Dairies said the cows would be free to roam in open-sided sheds when they were being milked, but otherwise would be put out to graze in dry weather.

Under the plans, the firm would create 80 jobs and the farm would become a training "centre of excellence".

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers said the plans were welcome news for the industry.

The planning application will be considered by North Kesteven District Council in the next few weeks.

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Cattle Site Protests Over Mega Dairy - 27 hrs ago Organic farmers attack large dairy farm plans - 27 hrs ago
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