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.


www.skepticat_UK said...

What a disgraceful response - thanks for posting it.

I stopped buying yeo valley the minute I found out they use homeopathy. It should be illegal to use a treatment that has been disproven in human adult trials on children and animals, IMO.

compostingideas said...

Its difficult to read your negligent persuasion what you deem a healthy cow. I believe your farmer works too hard to ensure his tasty creatures produce complete nutrients in food, while you don't have the basic understanding of how to use a shovel or do further research to clarify your bullshit. Just sayin'.

Margaret Nelson said...

Dear compost person,
I've shovelled tons of bullshit in my time. Used to work on a dairy farm. I've milked cows, taught cows how to walk nicely for shows, washed their bums, held their tails out of the way for the vet and AI man, helped to trim their feet, cleaned up after them twice a day, and sung to them (they like that because it means they know where you are and can't give them a fright). How much shit have you shovelled?

Skepticat_UK said...

You don't have to have actually shovelled bullshit to recognise it when you see it and calling it 'homeopathy' doesn't fool anyone with their critical faculties intact.

Caroline said...

Dear Margaret, thank you for this excellent piece. I will boycott Yeo Valley products too as a direct consequence of reading it. Just sayin'

Tae said...

As a farmer, it's great to see someone outside the agricultural world recognizing that bullshit for what it is. I'm horrified to hear of any farmer risking the life of their animals which are completely dependent on their care due to their ideology. In fact practices like homeopathy actually violate the principles of animal welfare for cows, based off 5 freedoms: One of which is the freedom from injury or disease.
Unfortunately this is not the first case of this I've heard of. I was horrified to watch the episode of BBC countryfile where a cow was left on Prince Charles' farm with only "homeopathic" treatment when she desperately needed proper treatment, the animal then died of blood poisoning yet I read no comments on it!
There has been the first case of prosecution of a farmer fro neglect for using homeopathy in Switzerland so hopefully we will see a turn around in attitude and more proper legal follow up on these things

Margaret Nelson said...

Thanks Tae. Hadn't heard about the Swiss case - hope you're right about a change in attitudes here.

It's not just farm animals that are being neglected this way. Homeopathy is being promoted for use with domestic pets. I knew someone who gave her dog a homeopathic remedy that she swore "calmed her" when there was a thunderstorm. Fortunately, she didn't rely on it to treat the animal for more serious problems, but many people do.

Nicola said...

I find it really disappointed that there is so much negative time spent on this topic.

Why not con concentrate on the appalling conditions of most factory farms where antibiotic use is rife and animal welfare is non existent. Instead you write articles trying to put consumers off buying from one of the most ethical dairies around.

Having grown up around farms I can assure you that most standard dairies aren't using much science either - cows are routinely not treated because vet bills are too high, calves are shot at birth because they have no value and out of a herd of 100 cows there will be 70 cases of mastitis in any one year because of high grain diets and a drive for larger and larger yields.

Please get your priorities in order.

Anonymous said...

Actually homeopathy works exceedingly well with animals and has no harmful side effects for them or to pass on to humans. I shall tell all my patients to buy only Yeo products Good luck to all you sceptics - let's hope you don't need our help or you will learn not to be critical of what you don't understand. Look how well the royal family are and they use homeopathy

M Nelson said...

Anonymous, phooey to that. As Edzard Ernst says, does it really work with animals? The answer's no.

M Nelson said...

Oh, and as for your comment, "Look how well the royal family are and they use homeopathy." That's like saying, "Look how well the royal family is and they always eat porridge for breakfast," though actually porridge is better for you than homeopathy. The first has nothing to do with the second part of your statement. Homeopathy is harmless if only used to treat minor ailments. However, whenever any of them has anything seriously wrong, they get the most expensive medical attention, of the conventional sort.