Most farmers care for their animals well, and this is not an argument on those who are vegan, vegetarian or omnivores. Most people eat meat. So the more we help small farmers, the less factory farming there is. However, many small farmers live on a pittance and many commit suicide. And lack of money means less welfare for animals. See how to help our small farmers and how to stop TB in badgers and cattle.
If concerned about any sheep or barnyard creature, report to RSPCA (this can be anonymous).
- Footrot is often prevented with clean transport, foot-trimming and quarantining new flocks for 30 days. Purdue University & Homeopathy at Wellie Level have good info. Sheepeasy (hammock) makes sheep/goat footcare quick and more comfortable.
- If you are a dairy farmer, take inspiration from no-slaughter brands like Ahimsa that allow calves to stay with their mums. However, there are so few of these companies, that there is not enough of this type of milk to feed the amount of people who drink it.
- See wildlife-friendly fencing alternatives. Although electric fences have low currents, one child died in 1991 after the child’s head touched the wire, after playing on wet grass. So don’t let pets play nearby either (due to their heads being the same height, like sheep dogs) or when it’s raining. You can buy a device to know if a mammal is trapped, which turns off the voltage, until the animal is free. Dry stone walling can keep sheep safe: Conservation Volunteers can build these for you or download Dry Stone Walling to build/repair walls yourself. Check that dry stone walls don’t grow the weed ragwort. Although home to a native caterpillar, it’s lethal to livestock and equines, and must be removed and disposed of, to DEFRA laws). World Horse Welfare has tips on prevention and dealing with it. You can remove ragwort in 4 easy steps with a ragfork (in bright colours, to see in the field).
- Rescued sheep need a lot of specialised care. They can live with goats but food is different (copper given to goats can harm sheep. And goats tend to head-b
- Don’t practice ‘migratory beekeeping’. This is when bees starve after the harvest. It’s more prevalent in industrial farming practices.
- Re’farmd is a wonderful new project. Rather than vegans having a go at dairy farmers, they are supporting dairy farmers who are making the leap. They are supporting farmers who are turning their farms into animal sanctuaries, then having them earn income by making and delivering oat milk, to keep family farms going. Get in touch if you’re an interested farmer, already delivering in the Midlands.
- One business in Wales makes ‘sheep poo paper’. It takes sheep poo and sterilises it, then mixes it with recycled paper to create a business from sheep, without harming them. Valentine cards are ‘I love Ewe’ or they also sell Birthday Bleatings cards!
- Vegans don’t wear wool, due to some breeds having ‘mulesling’ (chunks of skin cut away without painkillers to remove flystrike) and older sheep being killed, when their wool is of no use. Take inspiration from vegetarian wool companies that let sheep live out their natural lives. There is also a company that sells sheepskins that don’t harm sheep.
Sivalingam Vasanthakumar had been a sheep farmer for 47 years, since a child. Born in Sri Lanka, he was driving a flock of sheep to the abattoir, and had a change of heart. He instead drove them 200 miles from Devon to a Worcestershire sanctuary and went vegetarian. No ‘hippy’, he had butchered animals, but said he couldn’t take it anymore: pushing animals out of the trailer, where they were hiding (knowing their fate). He now lets cattle graze his land, and grows vegetables instead.
Farm Sanctuary (US) rescues abused animals. It began when a lamb was thrown on a stockpile of dead animals, covered in flies and maggots. The sheep was discovered collapsed in a stockyard, and rescued – 20 minutes later, she was eating and drinking. Hilda’s rescue started one of the world’s prominent farm welfare movements, and passed away peacefully in her sleep from old age, 11 years later. She is buried in the beautiful garden grove on the farm sanctuaries, her wonderful legacy imprinted forever.