Letter: Benign way to raise cattle

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Sir: Richard Mountford (letter, 27 January) criticises livestock farming for its wasteful use of water, and for its pollutive effects. This may be so of systems which exploit the animal, even de-nature it. But there has always been a benign pastoral way which was traditional in Britain, and is still widely used in New Zealand.

It is based upon permanent pasture, never ploughed, water-absorbent, herb-rich, producing meat with flavour. Those of us who practise it dare to assert that grass-eating animals need eat only grass or grass products.

Although sometimes seen as the forgotten art of grazing management, it survives strongly in Normandy and the Alpine pastures. We could encourage it as the best way to keep a landscape of beauty, or parkland of variety (not just boring commercial grass), rivers and streams protected from flooding and erosion - and pollution.

Here is a way to store rainwater in the soil, refill the aquifers and escape from the necessity of endlessly hurrying surface water to the sea. Animals are free from stress or frightening diseases, their mothers true partners in managing land, kept to live a long and healthy life.

DAVID GORDON

Bristol

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