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


Richard M. Boyden said...

Balabhadra is right, you know. Cow protection in the true Vedic sense is a holistic phenomena. In order that no cow, bull or ox suffer from the neglect caused by poor planning, much thought must go into every decision concerning the goshalla community. Who will do the milking, is there sufficient pasture, who will be responsible to train the oxen, etc? In other words, fitting the supply to the demand. This is our service to guru and Gauranga. Enthusiasm is always needed, but also large helpings of sincerity and PATIENCE.

Tom said...

"Guest are not brought down there, nor do the devotees go down there regularly."

May I ask a question please?

Why is this so ?

Don't the devotees take care of the cows any more ?
What else are they doing ? I would think that taking care of the cows would be first thing to do after chanting your rounds... I thought Prabhupada wanted NewV to be a farm for cow protection? Why are they being neglected ?

Balabhadra das said...

Dear Tom,

Sorry for the delay in answering.

Out of sight, out of mind. It is human to forget about something when it is not right in front of you and you are very busy. That is why we recommend decentralized cow care and if it must be centralized then not out of sight but within the center of the community.

Tom said...

Dear Balabhadra Das ,
Please may I ask a couple more things.....

I don't understand,you say
"Out of sight, out of mind. It is human to forget about something when it is not right in front of you and you are very busy."
"That is why we recommend decentralized cow care "

1)Why are the cows out of mind ?

2)Wouldn't it be better for the cows to be the center of the community?
3)Krishna is always with the cows ,
so why are not the devotee's
YS, Tom

Anonymous said...

I read your note on cow protection on Chakra and was wondering if there are too many cows now at New Vrindavana, perhaps one or two can be moved to another location, say, New Raman Reti if they would like or can accept another. If this is possible, perhaps that is another option if the cows can be better cared for if moved to another temple.

Pandu das said...


Hare Krsna. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for the work you are doing. I very much appreciate seeing your calling attention the the treatment of cows throughout ISKCON. Whether good or bad, it will only be better when more people are aware. I was very priviledged to have been able to assist you in your service in the past, and I hope to be able to do more in the future. Hare Krsna! Sincerely, Pandu das ( at