Thursday, March 29, 2007

Violation of ISKCON Minimum Cow Protection Standards

In response to Madhava Gosh’s letter, I feel compelled to publicly voice my observation on the purchase of new cows to restart the New Vrindavan herd. During the course of numerous discussions with the NV cow department over the last 10 years, it was acknowledged that the breed of choice to restart the New Vrindavan herd would be Brown Swiss.

Last November a donor gave a sizable donation to purchase cows. More cows than we wanted to begin with. At that time, 2 Brown Swiss heifers were located and they were both pregnant. They were purchased and close to Christmas day, they both gave birth to bull calves during the Mangal Artik time (4:30 am). So 2 cows now turn into 4 cows. It was also considered auspicious that both calves born were bull calves, because this will be the 1st ox team for the new herd. So far so good.

About 10 days ago, Ranaka prabhu (goshalla in charge) and I again were talking about the next installment of new cows for New Vrindavan. He said it was hard to find Brown Swiss and he was thinking about the Jersey breed. There was no talk of actually buying the next installment of cows. Three days ago, I heard that 5 pregnant Holsteins had been purchased and they would be arriving on Wed. March 28th. These 5 pregnant Holsteins cost $8,000 and were delivered to the temple.

The problem lies in the fact that the temple goshalla has maxed out the little barn by the temple. The little barn has 8 stalls which will now be filled. The 2 existing calves are now living in what would be the birthing stall and within 2 to 3 months there will be at least another 3 calves. What to do with the calves when the birthing stall is needed?

When I asked Ranaka prabhu about the calves and birthing stall, he said cows could be sent to the big barn in the valley where New Vrindavan ran their commercial dairy that was shut down in 1992. At this location, 2 miles away, 150 cows were milking tied into a commercial dairy quota of milk for sale.

A few years ago, Radhanath Swami and other devotees at NV wanted to counteract the past history of cow neglect that took place at the NV big barn. The consensus was that when the cows are out of sight, less community participation in their care takes place and that’s one of the reasons that the cows were neglected. Even today, the old cows and invalid cows are staying at the big barn and do not receive proper medical attention. Guest are not brought down there, nor do the devotees go down there regularly.

Once again, the cows are being sent out of sight, out of mind.

When I asked Ranaka prabhu what the plan was for the new cows and calves, it was stated that there is no plan.

After 12 years of trying to get New Vrindavan to at least name their cows and to at least comply with the Minimum ISKCON Cow Protection Standards, it is now necessary to bring up this current violation. The purchase of these last 5 pregnant cows was a total surprise to the vast majority of community members, what to speak of some of the current Board of Trustees who had no idea that the purchase was taking place. The final straw of Managerial neglect is that there is no plan other than milk production for these cows.

I have been giving seminars at New Vrindavan for several years now entitled HOLISTIC COW CARE: NOT JUST MILK. It is unfortunate that this topic has fallen on deaf ears and that the cows are still considered as CASH COWS for fund raising, for milk production, and possibly for commercial milk sales. My position as the ISKCON Minister of Cow Protection and Agriculture is as an advisor. My advice on this purchase of 5 pregnant Holsteins was not sought. If consulted, I would have said too many cows too quickly. I am writing this letter to go on record that I was not a part of this purchase nor do I approve of this purchase.

Listed below is Standard 9, Requirements for Acquiring Cows, Not Allowed.
This is the standard that New Vrindavan has violated.

Not Allowed
• 1) Animal Acquisition
Procuring or breeding of a cow for the purpose of supplying milk without any plan for the care, training and engagement of offspring.
• 2) Lack of land and funds for animal care. Failure to provide sufficient land, cowherds, and funds to support the cow and/or offspring.

For a full view of the standards refer to: MINIMUM COW PROTECTION STANDARDS, ISKCON Law 507

Go to Section 2: Breeding Standards, Standard 1X Requirements for Acquiring Cows

Your servant,
Balabhadra das
ISKCON Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cow Protection Around the Globe Part II

Another stop was Mayapur cow project in India. Here is an excerpt from Balabhadra’s letters while there.

“Yesterday we had a 3 hour goshalla meeting. The bottom line depends on how many bulls are working. The agriculture department will take 6 bulls and start working them. The Mayapur goshalla will use 6 bulls for agriculture and transport, and Hrimati's bullock man will take 2 for 2 months and train them and return them trained. They have now 9 bulls trained and doing service, so if all goes according to plan, 21 will be trained and working. The agriculture department showed up bright and early the next morning after the meeting and was checking out all of the oxen. Hrimati was there and she was amazed that they showed up so quickly and were fired up about picking out their 6 oxen.

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Oxen are now employed in spiritual processions in Mayapur


Hrimati is a member of the animal protection committee at Mayapur. She speaks fluent Bengali and is not afraid to get involved. During the meeting, I was able to push through a lot of her proposals and projects that need done at the goshalla.”

Mahadeva, the lead bull was very sick when Balabhadra was there. He spent much time helping the devotees take care of him. An operation was performed, but we found out later he never fully recovered and has passed away. He was greatly loved by the devotees there.

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Mahadeva right before he became very ill


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Hrimate with Abhay Charan who will replace Mahadeva as breeding bull.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cow Protection Around the Globe

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Balabhadra at Wenda's: "All of Wenda's cows/oxen are rescue. One of these 3 Holsteins was so sick that Wenda slept with him in the barn for 6 months. He is now quite healthy and as sweet an ox as can be. "

Being a simple cowherd at heart, Balabhadra now realizes he could have taken a laptop with him and updated you all as he traveled. Now that he is in Estonia taking a break, he has sent some photos of his trip.

The first stop was Wenda Shehata’s project in East Sussex England.

Another cow protector, Labangalatika in Raigad India, wrote us about her. That’s how we found out about her and decided to visit her.

“Do you know about Wenda in England who has a cow rescue place and 34 cows and bulls? When she was a small girl she freed some calves meant for slaughter and had to hide all night in the bushes to avoid being caught but got severely beaten anyway. She vowed when she grew up to have a place where nothing would ever be killed and when she was 35 she did this with help of Matthew whom she met after her son was grown up and on his own. They have this place for 13 yrs now and she does Agnihotra every morning and makes 500 cow dung cakes a day. The two of them do all their own work.

She is a devotee, and uses homeopathy in treatment of cows. She also was an activist to stop the veal trucks at Dover. She came to India this year to research how to use gobar and mutri and give some talks. She went to Kurma Rupa too and she has a book contract in Europe. She was to come and visit here but the Nasik riots held her up and she had to get her plane back to UK and have police escort from Nasik to Mumbai!!! “

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Balabhadra: "The brown cow was terribly abused and was full of fear for a long time. Due to Wenda's sensitive and gentle care she is quite well now. She asked me to name her and I named her Vrindavan Isvari."

When Balabhadra visited he felt that the quality of cow care was exemplary and that we can all learn from their loving and efficient cow seva.

Submitted by Chayadevi