‘Happy animals, Happy humans’.
Our vision for Oxford City Farm (OCF) is for a small scale urban farm where visitors can come to learn about growing food, looking after plants and looking after animals. Visitors will be involved with the farm’s professional staff in the day-to-day care of a small number of animals on the site. We want the farm to be informative and educational and we will demonstrate high animal welfare standards as defined by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ‘Five Freedoms’.
The principles of good animal welfare are:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease
- Freedom to behave normally
- Freedom from fear and distress
In acknowledging these freedoms and in line with the Animal Welfare Act 2006 all staff at Oxford City Farm who care for livestock will practise:
- Caring and responsible planning and management
- Skilled, knowledgeable and conscientious stock-keeping
- Appropriate environmental and welfare design
- Considerate handling and transportation
Good animal husbandry also helps to reduce the likelihood of people contracting infections that can be passed from animals to humans (zoonoses). Again working with experts in the field we will develop a Code of Practice to ensure risks are minimised.
Unlike most commercial farms, we anticipate that livestock reared and kept at OCF will have contact with large numbers of people, many of whom will have no experience of livestock and may not know how to behave around farm animals. We will closely monitor any animals to prevent abuse or ill-treatment.
Why do we want animals at all?
Social and therapeutic reasons
There is good research evidence to suggest that there are there are great social and therapeutic benefits to people having access to, and contact with, animals. OCF will be a place for city dwelling people to meet animals at close quarters and to be involved with their care and nurture.
We believe that this will be invaluable to a wide variety of people including disadvantaged or socially isolated groups and people with special needs. Providing the opportunity for people to care for and learn about animals on the farm is also something that features highly in the list of desired activities available on the farm in every piece of consultation we have undertaken.
Farming takes on many forms, from large chemically reliant “factory style” producers, through to smaller perhaps more mixed and wildlife friendly farms. We are aware that many intensive farming practices, although successfully producing large amounts of food, can be detrimental to the environment, farm workers, the animals reared for their meat and to the consumers as these animals enter the food chain.
At OCF we are committed to helping visitors to think about and question where their food comes from. We want visitors to appreciate the full range of methods used to produce food and the broader consequences of the lack of sustainability of many of the practices used to produce much of the food available in shops in the UK. We are dedicated to developing a farm where the principles of caring for the land, animals and plants and encouraging biodiversity and wildlife are as much of a focus as any saleable crop. Humanely and sustainably rearing animals, some of which will to enter the food chain will be part of this this work as the farm develops.
It should be noted that although OCF is committed to these principles, and have researched and discussed them at length at steering group and trustee level, the development of the farm will be a slow and incremental process. We will most likely focus on growing plant based food crops in Phase 1 and are unlikely to be breeding animals for food in the early years of the farm.