Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chilled milk from martial art

Chilled milk from martial art By Emily Allen
A herd of cows is living a stress-free life thanks to one farmer's new Tai Chi moooves!

Organic milk producer Miles Saunders, of Step Farm, Faringdon, has taken up Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, to help his cows relax.

The 44-year-old regularly performs a series of moves in the field in front of his 300-strong herd, in an attempt to spiritually uplift them.

He is hoping to boost the quality of their milk by increasing the levels of well-being in each pint.

Mr Saunders, who is three weeks into his new regime, said: "Tai Chi promotes well-being, health and a good lifestyle and as an organic milk producer, we like to keep all the cows calm, quiet and well-balanced with their diet and housing.

"We thought Tai Chi correlated nicely with this. It's just an extra thing really.

"I go out when I get the chance, about three or four times a week. I do a series of slow moves in the field and the cows find it interesting.

"The most important thing is it gives us happy, quiet cows. Anything that keeps them quiet is a good thing.

"It's hard to say at this stage if it's beneficial or not but the interest the cows show you, shows they enjoy it. They look very inquisitive too, which is a sign of healthy cows. They like to come up to me and have a good look."

An article in a trade magazine inspired Mr Saunders to test the technique about a month ago.

He began referring to the organic milk producers' website love-om.comcorr which lists seven different moves for farmers to try each day of the week.

Mr Saunders's five-minute routine begins when he moves his arms up and down as he imagines stroking his cows.

This is followed by a move to the left to symbolise cradling a calf before he widens his arms to part the hay.

The move is completed with outstretched arms, as if to survey the field, before pushing an imaginary fork into the ground.

Mr Saunders, who believes he is the longest-standing organic milk producer in the country, said: "The bottom line is we're trying to produce really good quality organic milk and with the benefits of Tai Chi, this will filter through to the consumer.

"That's the most important thing.

"It has many benefits for me. It gives me a chance to have quiet time and be among the cows. It also gives me a chance to have a really good look at the cows and make sure they're all healthy.

"Ten years ago, people dismissed tai chi, but now a lot of people are realising it works."

7:20am Saturday 10th May 2008

By Emily Allen

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