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Dairy cows on pastures are green ranging and free grazing. These cows can move around with freedom and eat grass in a natural manner.

Trace & Save uses the five freedoms of animal welfare to assess whether cows are cared for 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.

Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition

Pasture-based dairy cows are given sufficient green grass and other feed to make sure they are never hungry or malnourished. In fact, farmers play very close attention to ensuring their cows have a balanced diet and remain in healthy condition. They also always have plenty of water to drink.

Freedom from discomfort

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.

Freedom from pain, injury and disease

The cattle on pasture-based dairy farms are well cared for by the farmers, and veterinarians when necessary. All of the appropriate vaccinations are provided and disease prevention measures put in place. Animals are treated with care and respect to ensure no pain is inflicted or injuries caused.

Freedom from fear

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.

Freedom to engage in relatively normal patterns of animal behaviour

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.

Happy cows

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.

Craig Galloway