Blogs

What role for grazing in the UK and Ireland?

The first academic paper from the ‘Cows eat grass, don’t they?’ project was published this week. You can read an open access version of the paper here. One of the reasons I started this project was because I was coming across such different views about what the dairy sectors in Ireland and the UK... Read more ...
Posted on: Friday, 18 October, 2019

"You shouldn't be embarrassed about having 30 cows" Interview poem.

The following is a "poem" about the future of dairy farm size and ownership structure in the UK and Ireland. It's comprised of direct quotes from interviews with key stakeholders and document analysis in both countries. You can read more details about the data collection at the end. The country of... Read more ...
Posted on: Wednesday, 31 July, 2019

Vegan pie or rose veal? Catering to a broad church at the Ethical Farming conference

It’s not often you see a vegan lunch option at a farming conference on a dairy farm. But that was part of the ‘broad church’ approach at the Ethical Farming Conference: a farming conference about agricultural sustainability organised by four farms in Scotland, taking place on the Ethical Dairy in... Read more ...
Posted on: Friday, 17 May, 2019

Thanks to the farmers who took part in the survey

A sincere thank you to everyone who took part in the farmer survey. One of the most satisfying parts of being a social science researcher is people engaging with the questions you’re posing and taking the time to respond. Without that engagement we’d just be sitting in a room wondering what farmers... Read more ...
Posted on: Friday, 29 March, 2019

What does grass fed milk mean?

A man in California is suing Ornua: the organisation that markets and sells Irish dairy products abroad over claims that Kerrygold butter is “grass-fed”. The man is claiming false advertising because Irish cows do not subsist on grass alone but their diet is supplemented by grain and meal which may... Read more ...
Posted on: Thursday, 13 December, 2018

A short history of the idea that producing more food is a good thing

I got into an argument about food production once while working on my PhD in a café in Nottingham. The guy sitting beside me asked what I was working on an I told him I was doing a PhD on the social and ethical issues of growing energy crops on agricultural land. He was a neuro-marketing consultant... Read more ...
Posted on: Friday, 28 September, 2018

‘Cows eat grass, don’t they?’ at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018

The ‘Cows eat grass, don’t they?’ project took to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe for a second year as part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, a public engagement initiative to connect academic research with the public. This provides an excellent opportunity to engage with people who wouldn’t... Read more ...
Posted on: Wednesday, 22 August, 2018

Cows are happy inside: fact

This week I learned that spraying cold water into a new born calf’s ear will shock it into life if it’s not breathing but has a heartbeat. Apparently inside of the ear is quite close to the brain, so this jolts the calf alive when other techniques won’t work. It must be a huge relief for the farm... Read more ...
Posted on: Friday, 6 July, 2018

What does it mean to be a 'good' dairy farmer?

Farming is both an art and a science. Dairy farming in the UK is poised between being a traditional backbone of the rural economy and a high-tech industry. We need to understand what farmers and other stakeholders value within this sector in order to understand how they make decisions. The idea of... Read more ...
Posted on: Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

A farm by any other name....

I’ve often been caught out by language and terminology during interviews with farmers; not least in the North East of Scotland (e.g. not realising ‘backend’ means autumn and farmers were saying they vaccinated their cattle in the autumn. I was thinking "I'm pretty sure you're supposed to vaccinate... Read more ...
Posted on: Tuesday, 1 May, 2018