A good life makes for happy cows at Hare Krishna farm

Milked by hand, allowed to breed naturally and free from the threat of slaughter, the cows at Gokul farm near London could be possibly the happiest in Britain.

The 44 animals are owned by a community of Hare Krishnas, who live on the site at Aldenham bequeathed by Beatles guitarist George Harrison.

As believers of a branch of Hinduism, the Hare Krishnas view cows as sacred and treat them with respect, milking them by hand for the animals' comfort and allowing them to calve less intensively than in industrial farms.

Crucially, the community members are also vegetarian, guaranteeing that the cows are at no risk of slaughter.

"They are very sensitive animals. It's like if you have a dog - how you feel, the dog senses that," said Shyamasundara Das, the head of the farm at Aldenham.

"Here, because we have an atmosphere of cow care, the animals themselves are a lot more peaceful and tranquil, and maybe it's also because there is no sense that they are going to be killed by us."

Despite occasional massages, careful milking twice a day, and the spacious living quarters - the community has recently installed new cowsheds in French oak - the farm is not the bovine equivalent of a five-star hotel.

The cattle pay their way by pulling carts to take groups of school children or young families around the farm, as well as powering a traditional mill to grind the cereal that feeds the cows.

The farm is built next to the Bhaktivedanta Manor, which Harrison donated to the Hare Krishna movement in the early 1970s and is now their British base.

The presence of the sacred cows adds a spiritual element and brings the community closer to the Hindu ideal of a simple life in harmony with nature.

"Krishna is always seen surrounded by cows. He was a cow herd boy 5,000 years ago in India," said Kripamoya Das, a Hare Krishna priest.

There is also a more practical link between the believers and the cows.

The flowers used to decorate statues in the temple next to the manor, where barefoot believers pray morning, noon and night, are fed to the cows once they begin to droop, as a thank you for all their hard work.

Although their humane approach means that calves are allowed to continue suckling their mothers' milk for far longer than in industrial farms, the cows at Gokul still produce a large amount of milk.

At the moment this is drunk only by the community at Aldenham, but Shyamasundara Das is keen to begin selling it the world outside.

However, the cost of such a feel-good product is a barrier. The milk currently costs about three pounds (3.5 euros, 4.7 dollars) a litre and, pending the approval of regulators, would be sold at a hefty 3.5 pounds a litre, making it perhaps the most expensive cow's milk in Europe.

And is it any better than normal milk?

Mark Gardener, a vet who regularly visits Gokul farm, won't say either way - although he is confident that the cows here are likely to be happier.

"Normally in a dairy farm each cow has to justify his position" by having calves every few months or producing sufficient milk, and if they don't they will be sent to slaughter, he said.

"Whereas here the cows aren't under that pressure."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Biomass Sales Consultant

    £20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

    Java Developer

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...

    Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

    MS Dynamics NAV/Navision Developer

    £45000 - £53000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS DYNAMICS N...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game