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Dairy cows on pastures are green ranging and free grazing animals. They are therefore happy cows, because they can move with freedom and enjoy green grass to eat.

Trace & Save uses 5 freedoms to assess animal welfare on farms. The five freedoms are: 1) freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; 2) freedom from discomfort; 3) freedom from pain, injury and disease; 4) freedom from fear; and 5) freedom to engage in relatively normal patterns of animal behaviour.

Pasture-based dairy cows are given sufficient green grass and other feed to make sure they are never hungry or malnourished. They always have plenty of water to drink. These animals are also well looked after by vets so that they can remain healthy and active.

Green ranging and free grazing animals are on pastures most of the day. As a result of this they do not have the discomfort of being confined in small spaces or having to live in unnatural areas, such as sheds with cement flooring. These animals are furthermore cared for so that they remain free from pain, injury and disease.

Pasture-based dairy cows do not have anything to fear on the farm, because they are handled with care. Farmers ensure that walkways provide secure footing wherever cows walk, and they are never forced or coerced with harsh treatment.

Green ranging and free grazing cows are free to go about their normal daily routine of grazing and interacting with other cows in the herd.

That is why we say green ranging and free grazing cows are happy cows. These happy cows remain healthy and productive, which is good for society and good for farmers.

These pictures show the interaction between a happy green ranging free grazing cow and a caring farmer.

Marno Fourie

Marno is a Trace and Save researcher that works on the Woodlands Dairy Sustainability Project and has been part of the team since January 2013. He studied Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University. He is passionate about using natural resources in a way that leaves it in a better state for the next generation.

Marno loves the outdoors and to explore new places on his 250cc motorbike, which by the way, is a more eco-friendly mode of transport that generates less carbon emissions than his bantam bakkie. He enjoys good food and company. He also likes to look at natural vegetation in the rough when attempting to play a round of golf.

You can email Marno at or connect with him on social media:
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Marno Fourie