Jay Wilde took over the family beef farm in Ashbourne, Derbyshire after his father passed away. He grew up on the farm and helped raise and care for the cows. Although the farm had always been used to farm animals, it did not sit well with Wilde. He finally decided he could no longer handle killing the sentient cows, so he brought the remaining herd to a local sanctuary.
“It was very difficult to do your best to look after them and then send them to the slaughterhouse for what must be a terrifying death,” Wilde told BBC.
It was difficult for Wilde, who is a vegetarian, to not eat meat but raise cattle to be killed for meat. He felt it was his “duty” to carry on with the family beef farm. However, he realized that cows are emotional animals and deserved better.
Wilde surrendered the herd of 73 cows and brought them to The Hillside Animal Sanctuary. The cows were loaded on a truck but instead of heading to slaughter they were on the way to a peaceful refuge – where they would live out their lives as pets.
“I’m relieved to have made the decision to no longer farm animals, something which I always found quite upsetting,” he said. He had been battling with his conscience for awhile over farming cows but said he always wanted to stop. He “couldn’t believe it was right to eat them”.
He could have made about £50,000 by selling the cows for meat, but he could not betray the animals that he spent years raising.
Wilde was a vegetarian for 25 years but recently became a vegan. He plans on turning the farm into a vegan organic produce market. He is not sure if the new plans will be as profitable but his conscience is clear.
There are roughly 17 cows still on the farm that Wilde and his wife care for as pets. Some were too old or sick to be moved, so the couple kept them at the farm to live.
His story touched the heart of a filmmaker, Alex Lockwood, that created a short 15 minutes film. The film was titled, “73 Cows”, and went on to win multiple awards. The most recent was best short film at Bafta awards. Wilde credits Lockwood with his amazing storytelling ability. “I almost forgot it was me [on the screen] because Alex told the story so well. It’s a brilliant piece of work. He reflected reality.”
Watch the cows move from the farm to the sanctuary in the video below.
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