Beef Farmer Sends His Cows to Sanctuary, Not Slaughter

Don’t you wish farmers would just stop raising livestock and send their animals to live out their lives at a sanctuary? Here’s the story of one farmer who did exactly that.

Jay Wilde spent his childhood on his family’s farm, herding dairy cows in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England. He became a vegetarian about 25 years ago, so, clearly, the welfare of animals became much more important to him somewhere along the line.

When Wilde’s father passed away in 2011, he inherited the family dairy farm. For a while, he continued to run it, but Wilde was deeply troubled. He began seeing those cows for the fascinating creatures that they are.

“I began to see that cows recognize each other, and they’ve got very good memories,” Wilde told The Vegan Society. “They experience a range of emotions – they can be sad, happy, bored or excited. They do also have facial expressions. You can tell what a cow is thinking by looking at them. I’ve even seen cows cry.”

cows being milked

Wilde grew to resent the dairy industry, and, eventually, he just couldn’t participate anymore.

“We stopped producing dairy because it was so arduous,” Wilde told The Vegan Society. “To take the cow’s milk, you have to separate her from her baby. This is really difficult. Obviously, the cows get very upset when they are separated. It takes them a long time to get over.”

Wilde wasn’t sure how to make a change, so he got out of dairy farming and turned to raising his cows for beef. Of course, as a vegetarian, sending his cows off to slaughter didn’t please him either.

“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 explained to BBC News.

It took a chance conversation with Patrick Smith, a local member of The Vegan Society, about green alternatives to livestock farming to get Wilde thinking in a new way. He realized that he could do something better with his farm — and his life.

“I think we can change the way we live here, to something more suitable for the future than simply continuing to eat animals. That isn’t a very efficient way of feeding people after all,” Wilde told The Vegan Society.

Cows in a farm. Dairy cows

“If I’d been content with what I was doing, I would have brushed off Patrick’s comments and said this is the way the farm works, this is the way things have always been done,” Wilde said. “But I was very sympathetic, and I decided to do something about it.”

Those cows were Wilde’s livelihood. The 63-member herd was worth more than $50,000, but with the Vegan Society’s help, Wilde made a kind, courageous choice. He sent them all to a sanctuary.

The cows now live happily and peacefully at the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk, England.

Thirty of Wilde’s cows were pregnant when they moved to their new home. Just think about the 63 adults, the 30 calves and the life they’ll now lead. Mother cows will never know the sadness of being separated from their babies. Calves won’t be boxed up to become veal or raised to replace their mothers as milk-making machines. And they won’t ever face a terrifying death in a slaughterhouse.

For this small herd, one man’s kindness broke the cycle of pain and misery that most dairy and beef cows face every day.

cows in a field

“I’m relieved to have made the decision to no longer farm animals, something which I always found quite upsetting,” Wilde told BBC News.

Good thing Wilde is a decent man with a conscience. He’s even transitioning his farm into a vegan market farm. From now on, he’ll be supplying organic produce to stores instead of raising livestock.

Wouldn’t it be great if more animal farmers thought this carefully about how their business hurts the animals? Wilde’s not the only hero farmer who’s changed course away from animal farming, of course. And I sure hope he’s not the last.

Photo Credit: USDA/Flickr


Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla1 years ago

How wonderful!

iloshechka A
iloshechka A1 years ago

many thanks

Carl R
Carl R1 years ago


Helene L
Helene L1 years ago

Jay Wilde, thank you so much for your compassion and kindness. Your conscience is free of troublesome thoughts and regrets. I wish there would be more angels like you on the farms of the world.

Harji C
Harji C1 years ago

Farmer Wilde you got my heart , your an amazing person with a great heart who has great intelligence who has taken time to think about this great decision you made to free your animals to a better life you are a amazing individual and want to thank you for sharing this great story!! It was a absolute heart warming read of a person with compassion 😘👍

Jetana A
Jetana A1 years ago

Bless Farmer Wilde for his kindness!

Mariana L
Mariana L1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

GGmaSAway D
Sheila D1 years ago

Save a bundle...don't eat meat...

Iris Krummenohl
Iris Krummenohl1 years ago

It's not the farmers who are to blame, it's the people, the CUSTOMERS who so badly NEED their daily piece of meat on their dishes, and that for as cheap a price as possible. There are bio-farms, where the animals roam free, inside or outside, just as they please, they eat grass, they don't spend a miserable, horrible life like most of all these poor animals do, because people seem to be unable or NOT WILLING to make the connection between the living creature and the "product" in meat-counter in their supermarket. But bio-meat is just not as cheap, it can't be. Alas there are only 3% of the customers who are willing to pay more !!!
If they showed videos all day long above every meat-counter about the atrocities (how these animals have to live and how they have to be transported to their horrible death in the slaughterhouse), perhaps people would think twice ..... but I have my doubts.