I read the other day that there are only 25,000 acres of traditional hay making meadows left in England as more intensive farming methods have taken their place. For years I have questioned these new ways of feeding animals and the health of the animals whose meat and milk we consume.
As a child I grew up on a dairy farm where hay was made each summer from fields full of a variety of grasses as well as herbs and wildflowers. The animals ate a varied and organic diet as the only addition to our fields was lime and manure.
In my teens I watched as local farmers started to turn to silage making as this was easier and less dependent on good weather. This took place earlier in the year and was often finished by the end of May long before the wild flowers and herbs had time to self-seed and resulting in fields which eventually just grew grass.
Just imagine what would happen if we humans just ate one type of food all day and every day. As each year passes we learn more about the importance of a varied diet of natural ingredients. The poor animals don’t have an option.
Even worse is the practise of feeding animals on grain rather than grass or hay which is starting to happen especially in America. When still quite young animals are removed from the field and reared in sheds where their only source of food is grain. At first they starve for a few days as they don’t like it but then they give in as there is no other option. This way of eating fattens the animals much quicker resulting in more profit.
My childhood friends ate hay in the winter and loved it. All the goodness of the summer hay meadow was dried and stored. Hopefully it will eventually dawn on farmers that just like people animals are what they eat.