The Ethical Dairy (4) — sankalpa supported activity
projects

The Ethical Dairy

Solway Coast, South West Scotland

Unlike almost every other dairy farm in the world, The Ethical Dairy has stopped taking calves away from their mothers shortly after birth. 

As the first commercial dairy in the UK to be following the cow with calf method, the Finlay's are on a mission to revolutionise the dairy industry by proving that a kinder approach to dairy farming is possible.

They leave the calves — including the male calves — with their mother, to suckle naturally.  This means the farmers get less milk, but also less stress. Less stress means a better life for the cows, their calves and for the people who work with them.

Supporting The Ethical Dairy

The Finlay family have been farming in southwest Scotland since the mid 18th century. After experiencing feelings of dismay towards the food system — in terms of the growing issues of environmental degradation, resource depletion, agri-chemical misuse, animal welfare, food affordability and food security — the family decided to moved towards a radical farming model.

In the winter of 2012, the Finlays undertook a six month cow-with-calf pilot at Rainton Farm, Kirkcudbrightshire: an organic farm of 830 acres with 130 dairy cows. The findings from the pilot demonstrated that, after modifications to the management and farm infrastructure, a viable cow-with-calf model could be introduced following a three year transition period.

After receiving support from sankalpa for the transitional costs of moving to a calf-at-foot dairying model, the Finlays now run the first commercial dairy in the UK to be following the cow with calf method.

The Ethical Dairy (6) — sankalpa supported activity
The Ethical Dairy (10) — sankalpa supported activity

Our driver is to push at the boundaries of the accepted norm in search of a more sustainable food production system, with which we are comfortable. 

sankalpa shared our vision and took the risk of providing that critical support for what is now being seen as ground-breaking and very relevant, research and development in dairy welfare.

David Finlay, The Ethical Dairy

The Ethical Dairy, today

Following the success of their pilot, The Ethical Dairy raised over £56K in 2018 through a successful crowdfunding campaign. With almost 600 donors coming forward to help the Finlay's 'prove there is a viable alternative to conventional dairy farming'.

A year later, in 2019, The Ethical Dairy (in partnership with three others), held the first known ethical farming sector conference. The Ethical Farming Conference, opened by Mairi Gougeon, Scottish government minister for rural affairs and the natural environment — attracted over 200 farmers, researchers, academics and students from Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, the USA and from across the UK.

Wilma & David Finlay, The Ethical Dairy — sankalpa supported activity

We are being contacted on a near daily basis by other farmers who want to know more. They want to try ethical dairy farming but they want us to prove it can work first.

Our ultimate goal, once we have proven this model, is to share our experience with other farmers so that they can transition to cow with calf dairy farming more easily having learned from our mistakes. 

David Finlay, The Ethical Dairy
The Ethical Dairy (5) — sankalpa supported activity
The Ethical Dairy (9) — sankalpa supported activity
The Ethical Dairy (7) — sankalpa supported activity
The Ethical Dairy (11) — sankalpa supported activity

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