Today I am working out the feasibility of bringing a cow into Bristol’s city centre which I would live with, milk and muck out, in a temporary milking parlour for five days. In the age we live in of health and safety and red tape, the thought of bringing a live animal into the city, shitting and milking, feels like quite a feat. As I write this, Green sleeves is playing through my speaker phone. I have been put on hold and I am waiting to be connected to the Animal Health and Plant Agency: a UK Central Government department set up in October 2014 to better equip the government to prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases, and to respond to emergencies.
Forty minutes later, and after a long conversation with a charming Spanish vet from the agency, she informed me that:
The farmer who owns the cow needs to apply for a Performance Permit for the cow to move anywhere. The cow’s individual holding number is needed, as we as it’s place and origin of berth and information about the farmers. This is to ensure basic standards of welfare are upheld for the animal and if it does become sick, or injured, it can be traced back to somewhere. I will be chiefly responsible for the animal over the ‘live’in’ period and need to know the Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Cattle off by heart.
The maximum amount of time is 36 hours and anything beyond that is up to the discretion of the local vet and the Local Trading Standards.