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Meadow Court Farm leads the way to RSPCA Assured status

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MEADOW COURT FARM has achieved the island’s first RSPCA Assured certificate, which recognises high standards of dairy cattle welfare.

James Watts, of Meadow Court Farm, said it was quite onerous initially to farm to RSPCA Assured standards, but now it was part of the way work is carried out each day. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28469424)

RSPCA Assured is the organisation’s ethical farm animal welfare and food labelling scheme.

It covers every aspect including feed and water, the environment animals live in, health care, and transport.

James Watts, of Meadow Court Farm, said it had spent a number of years focusing on animal welfare.

‘It is important for consumers to know that our cows are well looked after and the RSPCA Assured scheme provides that reassurance. It is the highest standard a dairy farm can attain, so we are extremely proud of this achievement,’ he said.

‘My whole career has been focused on looking after our herd better. As a result, we have fewer health issues year on year, which has reduced our annual vet and medicine bills.’

Key criteria that the RSPCA Assured inspectors look for are the cows having access to outdoors and that any buildings they use are well-ventilated.

They should also be provided with brushes to scratch on, and comfortable, clean beds, and the specific needs of calves have to be met.

To achieve RSPCA Assured approval, these provisions have to be well-documented and detailed records maintained.

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Assessors also carried out a visual inspection of all the cows and young stock.

Mr Watts said as well as being more productive, having healthier cows ultimately improves the quality and taste of the milk.

‘Although it was quite onerous initially, it has become routine and just part of the way we work, so it should now be a lot easier.

‘We provide our cows with a carefully balanced diet throughout the year, to meet the nutritional demands relevant to their level of milk production.

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‘From mid-April through to mid-October, grazed grass forms part of this diet, so cows spend around six months of the year going out in the fields.

‘If there is any unseasonal weather over that time, we’ll let them stay inside where it is more comfortable and sheltered.’

All Guernsey dairy farms are in the process of becoming RSPCA Assured.

Guernsey Dairy will then be able to use the scheme’s nationally recognised logo on its milk cartons.

‘Local farmers are passionate about the welfare of their beautiful and iconic Guernsey cows,’ said Guernsey Dairy quality and compliance manager Alex Tielles.

‘They are all working extremely hard to achieve this certification, which has been no small challenge with the added pressures of Covid-19.

‘James and his team at Meadow Court Farm have led the way and we are incredibly proud of their efforts.’

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann
author

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