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Dreaming Cows

News Section Icon Published 18/04/2013

In early 2013, Compassion in World Farming visited a higher welfare dairy farm to film a herd of dairy cows in their winter housing. We found them 'preparing' to get out into the fields.

These cows are some of the lucky ones. They live in a high welfare indoor system with straw barns and loafing areas in the winter, and get access to pasture during the summer. We even filmed the cows 'dreaming' - in the middle of R.E.M sleep that is only possible when they lie down.

Many cows in Europe have poor housing. Deprived of a comfortable lying area, they are unable to rest properly or lie next to their friends. In the worst systems they are tethered to a single stall. Lack of space means they are also unable to perform simple natural behaviours such as socializing and exercising. When cows are kept indoors, during the winter for example, we want all of them to have high quality housing so that they are well rested and fit for when they are allowed onto pasture in the warmer months. We also want an end to tethering.

Watch the video now and sign the Supporting Better Dairy petition.

Compassion in World Farming, in association with ice cream makers Ben and Jerry's and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), have formed the Supporting Better Dairy Coalition. Together we are working to introduce EU legislation that protects all of Europe's 23 million dairy cows.

Whilst outdoor access should be a minimum standard in all EU dairy farming, the severe winter in much of Europe has shown that good indoor housing, during those cold months, is equally important. Please sign our petition to call for European legislation that protects Europe's 23 million dairy cows all year round. Our proposal calls for:

  • Good housing
  • Good feeding
  • Good health
  • The ability for cows to express appropriate behaviour

If you have already signed the Supporting Better Dairy petition then please share the video with friends and family, to show how all cows should live.

And remember, these cows are the lucky few in Europe. Many cows don't get to live like this.

  • To learn more about the work that Compassion is doing for dairy cows, and why an EU Dairy Directive is so important, click here.

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If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).