Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yeo Valley and homeopathy

I like Yeo Valley yoghourt and I've been buying Yeo Valley light spreadable butter because it doesn't contain palm oil, which I avoid because of the deforestation issue. So I was disappointed to learn that they were "treating" their cattle with homeopathy, which isn't treatment at all. I emailed them via their website:
Sorry, Yeo Valley. I like your products but won't be buying any more since you said you're going to treat your livestock with homeopathy. That's not treatment because there's nothing in it, so I regard it as neglecting to treat them.
This was their reply:
Dear Margaret
Thank you for your recent email.
The health of our cows is the top priority on our farms. Organic systems include a proactive approach to animal welfare and are designed to minimise stress on livestock that might result in illness; the routine use of antibiotics as a preventative measure to treat our cows’ ailments is forbidden.
As a result of this Steve, the Herd Manager on one of our farms began investigating alternative options to the use of antibiotics and began studying a course on homeopathic treatments. Since then, Steve has been implementing what he has learnt by using homeopathic treatments and remedies to treat his cows for a number of issues, including warding-off flies and easing the cows’ stress levels when having their feet clipped. The treatments have so far proved successful and, unlike antibiotics, cows don’t build up immunity to these remedies. In fact, they encourage the cows’ immune systems to fight bugs themselves. The use of homeopathic treatments not only helps to develop a more robust immune system, it also means no withdrawal periods for milk and meat while the animal is being treated, as would be the case when antibiotics are used.
However, this doesn’t mean we completely avoid more conventional treatments; if we need to treat an animal quickly and effectively we will always choose the treatment, either conventional or alternative, that will be most beneficial to the cow to aid its recovery and this may involve antibiotic use. I would like to reassure you that we operate the highest level of animal welfare standards on all of our farms. Not only are we strong supporters of the welfare system developed by The Soil Association for cattle producing organic milk, we also take care of the environment in which we operate and act responsibly and ethically in how we do business. Organics standards strictly admonish zero grazing techniques; cows cannot be permanently housed, but must spend the majority of their lives outdoors. The cows must have appropriate bedding and adequate space when they are brought indoors during bad weather during the winter months.
Being an independent, family owned British business, we value our reputation and the loyalty of every one of our customers who buy our products. We have built our reputation on a combination of quality and word of mouth and would never knowingly do anything to jeopardise this.
Thank you once again for writing to us.
Kind Regards
Sally Laurie - Marketing Team
I'd like to see farmers who "treat" their livestock with homeopathy prosecuted for a failure to ensure the welfare of their animals - they should call a vet, not a homeopath, when an animal needs treatment. I've changed to using the Co-op's spreadable stuff, which is made with rape seed oil. For more on homeopathy, see Skepticat's blog.