Countryfile viewers infuriated by ‘cruel’ dairy farm segment ‘Very disappointed!’

This is the reaction of some viewers to the BBC Countryfile programme on Sunday. This was the first  time that Countryfile devoted a whole programme to just one landowner, in this case Clinton Devon Estate.

COUNTRYFILE viewers weren’t impressed with one aspect of Sunday’s instalment as Matt Baker visited a dairy farm.

Charlotte McIntyre

Matt Baker took a trip to Otter Farm on the Clinton Devon Estates in the latest edition of Countryfile. The BBC presenter spoke to Youngstock Manager Alice heading up the calving team but fans of the rural show took to social media to share their “disappointment” at one of the processes being implemented on the farm.

Alice showed Matt around the farm and introduced him to some newborn calves. 

“What time were these born?” Matt asked and Alice replied: “This one was born nine o’clock last night and the other two four o’clock this morning.”

“They’re doing very well but obviously not with mum,” Matt pointed out.

Alice explained: “Ideally we take them off as soon as possible.

Countryfile Matt Baker Alice cow

Countryfile: Matt quizzed Alice on how she and her team manage the dairy farm (Image: BBC)

“We let the mother cow lick the calf because it’s really important to release the pheromones in the cow’s brain, it helps with pain relief.

“But after that, we take the calf away to make sure it has its colostrum that it really needs.”

Matt remarked: “And that term colostrum, that really special milk with all of the antibodies.

“That’s really key to the [calves]. How do you get it to them?”

“With a cow, there’s no immunity passed through the placenta so it’s 100 percent dependent on the colostrum,” Alice answered. 

“But with cows, they produce so much milk that the colostrum gets diluted away within a matter of hours.

“So we take the calf away, put it somewhere nice and clean and cosy, milk the cow and then feed the calf the colostrum.”

“How long do they stay in this barn?” Matt queried.

“They’ll be in here for 14 weeks and then after that, they go outside and enjoy the sunshine on their backs,” she replied. 

Countryfile viewers took to Twitter to slam the process of taking calves away from their mothers.

Jane Ward tweeted: “Why on earth would you remove calves from their mums? Profit? Profit? Profit? #countryfile.”

Sarah Hutchison remarked: “Very disappointed to see #countryfile showcasing the practice of removing calves at birth. Calves should be with their mothers until weaning.”

“Naively thought that calves were kept with the mother cow until they were at least 6 months old Face with cold sweat #countryfile,” Mary Hinge said. (sic)

Michelle Gray wrote: “Calves should be with their mums #countryfile.”

“Dairy farming is so cruel on the mother cows and calves #countryfile,” @Bufferb2012 shared.