On 16th February 2011, Nocton Dairies withdrew their controversial plans for a ‘mega-dairy’ in Nocton, Lincolnshire.

The period in which formal objections to the planning application could be submitted closed on 11 January 2011.

There has been a fantastic response with over 11,000 objections received in total.

Compassion in World Farming has applied for the decision about the fate of the proposed mega-dairy in Nocton to be taken out of the hands of the North Kesteven District Council and placed in the hands of national government.

Dozens of politicians have shown they back the campaign against industrialised dairy farming by signing an ‘Early Day Motion’ in the House of Commons. So far more than 140 MPs (and counting!) have put their names against the motion supporting Compassion's campaign against the proposed mega-dairy in Nocton.

A ‘secret’ press conference launched new plans for the Nocton ‘mega-dairy’ in Lincolnshire yesterday. New plans for the UK’s biggest factory dairy farm were kept under strict embargo until today. Although the proprietors of Nocton Dairies Ltd promised significant changes...

Compassion in World Farming would like to thank all of its supporters for helping us to raise much more than our hoped for £3,000 to place adverts on buses in Lincolnshire encouraging the communities surrounding Nocton Heath to oppose proposals for a 'mega-dairy.'

Over 50 UK MPs joined Compassion in World Farming on 26th October 2010 to learn more about the threat of 'mega-dairies' entering the UK.

The proposed construction of the UK's largest dairy farm poses a giant threat to animal welfare...

Compassion in World Farming reveals that those behind the proposed ‘mega-dairy’ farm in Lincolnshire have applied for public money and stated that without it, both animal welfare and environmental standards on the farm will be lowered.

Jay Rayner’s article, “Big agriculture is the only option to stop the world going hungry,” (The Observer, 12th September) reports that the dairy farmers the author has spoken to do not see animal welfare as an issue in the kind of ‘super dairy’ proposed at Nocton Heath.

Compassion in World Farming strongly disagrees with the recent assertion by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) suggesting that dairy cows housed all year round with little or no access to grazing or kept in large herds can have satisfactory welfare.

Compassion in World Farming is currently fighting plans for a so-called 'mega dairy' to be built in Nocton, Lincolnshire. The proposed dairy would house over 8,000 cows indoors in cubicles with only very limited time to graze outdoors.

On Wednesday 7th July on BBC 2 at 20:00 a documentary entitled The Private Life of Cows will see presenter Jimmy Doherty investigating the feelings and behaviours of cows. He will be looking into aspects such as the hierarchy of a herd and what underlies their commonly seen behaviours.

The plans for the South Witham Dairy had given rise to widespread objections from local residents, politicians and animal welfare organisations, coming hot on the heels of plans for the 8,000-cow Nocton Heath Dairy, which have been temporarily withdrawn.

Compassion in World Farming strongly disagrees with the recent assertion by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) suggesting that dairy cows housed all year round with little or no access to grazing or kept in large herds can have satisfactory welfare.

More supporters

MPs briefed on perils of 'mega-dairies'

Philip Lymbery and Zac Goldsmith MP

Philip Lymbery with Zac Goldsmith MP

Over 50 UK MPs joined Compassion in World Farming on 26th October 2010 to learn more about the threat of ‘mega-dairies’ entering the UK.

The proposed construction of the UK's largest dairy farm posed a giant threat to animal welfare and all those who believe that humane and sustainable farming is the only viable way to feed our planet.

This Westminster event, organised by Compassion in World Farming and WSPA and hosted by Austin Mitchell MP, underlined the strength of feeling against the proposal to build an intensive dairy cow unit in Lincolnshire, England, where thousands of animals would be housed indoors for much, if not all the time.

MP Support for our campaign

Throughout the evening, MPs were asked:

Is your MP taking action against mega-dairies?

  • To sign an Early Day Motion supporting the aims of Compassion’s ‘Cows Belong in Fields’ campaign
  • To highlight the animal welfare concerns raised by Nocton’s proposed mega-dairy to DEFRA’s Minister Jim Paice
  • To support the Sustainable Livestock Bill which promotes sustainable farming and is being introduced to Parliament by Robert Flello MP . Friends of the Earth, who are championing the Bill, were present at the mega dairy briefing to provide further information and encourage MPs to be at the second hearing.

Compassion patrons and high profile supporters also attended the event to show their support for the ‘Cows belong in fields’ campaign.  These included Alexandra Bastedo, Sir Crispin Tickell, Zac Goldsmith MP, Marc Abraham and Nathalie Cox.

Compassion believes that cows belong in fields

Placing thousands of cows into industrial-style sheds will have disastrous consequences for animal welfare, rural livelihoods and the environment:

  • A recent report by the expert European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) makes it clear that the health of dairy cows can suffer if they are denied pasture
  • Sewage production will be the equivalent to the population of a city almost the size of Bristol
  • 60-80 average-sized dairy farms are likely to be put out of business by one such factory farm.

Read more about intensive dairy farming >>

Farmers have a choice

During the evening, Neil Darwent, a South West dairy farmer gave his view on the proposed mega dairy.

On the issue of pasture and land use Neil commented:

"Grass is probably the most incredible plant on the planet. Different species growing all around the globe have been the foundation of livestock farming for centuries. For ruminant animals it provides far more than just freedom – it delivers a complete balanced diet offering energy, protein, minerals and trace elements that can be freely harvested by the animals that graze it and, in turn, these abundant pastures indirectly supply a large portion of our own dietary needs. We don't just feed cows on grazed grass because it’s good for them – it’s also a very cheap feed and one that grows well throughout the UK.

"The western side of our country grows grass and the silty soils of East Anglia are the nation’s vegetable patch and cereal bowl. Displacing one sector of agriculture with another like this is not sustainable – farming evolved where it did for a reason. I find it incredible in a hungry world with more and more people aspiring to eat meat and dairy products, we are ripping up pasture to grow cereals, which will then be fed to our livestock.”

On the broader issue of sustainability and the answers that lie within the gift of the farming community:

“Mega dairies do not provide a long term sustainable solution – they simply offer a quick fix for those trying to maintain margins in the supply chain whilst offering cheap food. The operators of these farms will wield no more power in the negotiating milk prices than they do today. Furthermore, the consignment of dairy cows into mega herds will serve to only distance consumers further form the origins of their food. If we are to provide food for future generations from our own shores, we must promote farming systems that create something of real value to us all.

Neil questioned whether consumers want to buy milk viewed with the same suspicions that they have of battery eggs.

"We must learn the lessons from other failures in industrialised farming such as battery hens. I am here tonight because I believe farmers have the answers. But if we do not engage directly with everyone who has a stake in our future we will build farms that are wrong for us, wrong for our livestock and wrong for everyone in this country.“

Neil’s insightful comments underscored the fact that this issue represents a defining moment for the future of farming and the British countryside.

Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming said:

Philip Lymbery addressing the audience

Philip Lymbery addressing the audience

“We are at a pivotal moment in history for animal welfare, our countryside and indeed the farming community. Your support for our campaign, cows belong in fields, will help define that future. Your support will help prevent the runaway train that mega-dairies are likely to represent if let loose;  bringing profound consequences for the health of our countryside, the prosperity of family farms, and, of course, the welfare of our cows.”

View Philip’s speech to MPs on his blog, a compassionate world >>

Please take action at this crucial moment in history for animal welfare

Your support will help define the future of farming in the UK. If you haven’t already taken action, please email your MP and urge them to sign EDM 942.

The fight is not over

In 1967, dairy farmer, Peter Roberts founded Compassion in World Farming in response to the wide-scale emergence of factory farming. In Lincolnshire in 2010, his rallying cry against the unnatural confinement and suffering of farm animals is needed more than ever. More mega-dairies are being proposed and we are gearing up for a long battle. The backers of the Lincolnshire mega-dairy were determined to introduce a US-style intensive dairy system to the UK. they weren't successful but others will no doubt follow in their wake. We are absolutely determined that this should never happen.

If you’ve not donated yet, please help us end all forms of intensive farming and keep cows where they belong - in fields >>