We’re used to seeing them on TV screens as one of our most loved farm animals, symbolic of the British countryside - but for the first time a dairy cow has gone behind the camera to become an unlikely film maker.
Dairy cow Martha was fitted with a special camera to capture her every move in an attempt to show the public what cows and their herd mates get up to on a typical day.
The a-moosing result life 'Through cows' eyes' is available to watch on our website.
Animal experts worked with Martha, who has spent her life on a farm in Gloucestershire, to devise a suitable harness, allowing her to wear a special camera on the top of her head.
The camera captured an image every ten seconds and then made into a 90-second film, allowing people to see the world through a cow’s eyes The footage starting at sunrise, shows Martha watching on as her and her friends await their morning milking, and then head out to the field for fun and frolics. Other revealing scenes show Martha playfully nudging her best friend in the barn, and relaxing peacefully with her cow-family chewing the cud in the sun.
Martha played it cool from the outset, wearing her camera with poise, while her cow companions looked on somewhat bemused by the new look Martha was sporting!
Dairy farmer Rob Harrison said:
“I chose the coolest cow I could think of – and Martha did very well indeed in her new role. She can be a diva at times, but she definitely lapped up the attention from the film crew straight away.”
The film is being launched as part of a new ‘Discover Dairy’ campaign fronted by farmer and TV presenter Adam Henson, and run by dairy farmers.
Amanda Ball from DairyCo, the not for profit organisation coordinating the campaign, said: “We had lots of fun making the film, but there is a serious message here too. We’re hoping the film will spark interest in the everyday lives of the animals that dairy farmers look after to produce the huge range of milk, cheese and other dairy products we love to eat. Research suggests there is a lack of knowledge about what modern dairy farming is about; but we know people are interested in finding out more – so we’re working with Adam Henson and dairy farmers around the country to try to bridge that gap.”
The video, and many more, some featuring Adam Henson, are live in our WATCH section and you can follow @thisisdairy to hear about more guest cow appearances on the website and on twitter.
The harness and camera used on Martha was approved by veterinary and cow behaviour experts and the experiment was supervised at all times.
Martha is part of a 220-strong dairy herd near Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire. Her daily routine, captured by the cameras, includes:
- 5am: walk to milking parlour. The cow tracks on any dairy farm are important for the health and welfare of the cows. Good tracks are kind to cows’ feet.
- 5am-6am: morning milking. Martha is milked in a New Zealand-style herringbone parlour, but there are a wide range of different milking parlours used in Britain.
- 6am: back to field. Martha will usually walk on the track in roughly the same position every day – there is a hierarchy in the herd.
- 6am-3pm: grazing. The cows in the film are looked after on an ‘extensive’ system, which means they graze for the majority of the year and fresh grass is key to their diet. British dairy farmers will farm on a system that suits them – from extensive systems through to ones where cows are housed all year round.
- 3pm: walk to parlour. Cows often want to be first in the parlour and there’s a herd order!
- 3 - 4pm: afternoon milking. Cows like their routine and they are usually milked at about the same time each day.
- 4 - 5pm: back to field. The cows will be ready to settle down for the night. They can spend up to 14 hours lying down each day, with their complicated digestion process turning the grass they’ve eaten into milk.
- 5pm: grazing. Martha will spend the evening and night in the herd until morning milking.