Vegan farm invasion had dairy owners on ‘full alert’
ANIMAL liberationists and vegan activists tend to be city folk who know very little about farming or rural life in general.
That much became obvious earlier this year when video taken by two farm-bothering activists turned up on news programs. The video showed the activists at a dairy farm in WA.
A farmer emerged to deal with the duo, subsequently firing a shotgun that was pointed away from their car.
"He just shot bullets!" the lead activist said.
Wrong. As anyone who is familiar with farms and firearms knows, shotguns don't fire bullets. They fire shells loaded with shot pellets. There's a clue in the name.
Well, too bad for those kids they didn't have the benefits of any childhood farm experience. If they had, they might not be so keen on targeting dairy farms.
I was a lucky child and learned a great deal from being with my uncles on their farms. When I was seven or so, one uncle took me along for the first time to the morning's milking.
This was exciting. I imagined we'd use horses or maybe motorcycles to round up the cows before corralling the ornery brutes in sturdy holding pens.
Instead, my uncle just shook a bell hanging from a rope on the side of the milking shed. Cows scampered over to us faster than shotgun-spooked celery chompers.
Cows, you see, like being milked. They need to be milked. So would you, if you had 20 litres or more of heavy fluid sloshing around inside.
Emma Elliott of Dubbo's Little Big Dairy refers to milking as a "welfare issue", which is perfectly correct.
"In general, if a milking animal is not milked for an extended period of time [more than one or two days] they are likely to become ill and may develop mastitis," the US Holstein Foundation points out.
Milking is a cooperative venture between farmer and cow. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement. Nevertheless, dairy farmers have found themselves tormented by animal activists.
In February, northern NSW dairy farmer Julie Moore told of an invasion after her farm was listed on the activist website Aussie Farms.
"It was scary," the Dorrigo farmer told The Daily Telegraph. "We had these people come onto our property in August last year."
n April, dairy farmers on Queensland's Southern Downs were confronted by activists outside their property before dawn.
Mid-year, South Australian dairy farmer Mike Borema's cows were let loose and a shed was burned down.
When concern over farm invasions was at its peak earlier this year, one of the larger dairy operations in NSW ringed its property with new fences and installed a boom gate, complete with the presence 24 hours per day of security guards.
"We were on full alert," one farmer, not wishing to be named in case activist attention is drawn to his dairy farm, said.
Dairy farmers throughout various regions of inland NSW, often far from immediate police protection, formed their own communication groups to monitor activist sightings.
All of this is done, of course, is to protect happy cattle. Cow contentment is measured in litres.
Colin Thompson's Holsteins at Cowra are obviously especially cheerful, producing an average of 44 litres of milk every day.
In line with modern dairy farm practice, each of Thompson's cows is equipped with a radio chip that keeps track of milk yield and therefore a cow's overall health.
"You want them to be laying down for about 12 hours per day," Thompson explains, "because that's when they're making milk."
So machinery piles in around 60 tonnes of sand each week for his cows to rest on, beneath huge, purpose-built cooling fans.
Cows are more distressed by humidity than by temperature alone, and on humid days may suffer heat stress beginning at 25 degrees.
Those fans are a humanitarian necessity. Frankly, given all the smoke around at present, some Sydney offices could use a cow fan or two themselves.
But spare us the misguided animal activists, please.
These people are hammering farming families who above everything value their livestock's health and wellbeing.
And - what with the drought, long working hours, price wars, farm closures and tough profit margins - our dairy farmers already have enough to deal with.