1. Animal Husbandry

Farm Aura: a Bengaluru-Based Dairy Startup Employs Cruelty-Free Dairy Farming Techniques To Sell Dairy Products

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Radhika Nichani

Architect Radhika Nichani observed firsthand the atrocities animals face on the streets of India while helping at Charlies Animal Rescue Centre (CARE) in Bengaluru. One horrific case of animal cruelty led her to research about animal cruelty cases, and she came across some literature about the myriad ways the industrial complex has exploited animals to develop businesses and test human products during one such deep dive.

Dairy was one of these industries, she realised. Some call it the world's most exploitative commerce, in which animals are treated as money-making machines rather than real beings.

In the past, India, on the other hand, took a radically different, more sustainable approach to dairy farming.

"If you study the history of the White Revolution, you'll discover that India was populated solely by desi cows. While these cows produced the highest quality milk, they only yielded six or seven litres at a time, according to Radhika.

When the British came, however, they brought with them an insatiable appetite for dairy products like butter and cheese. However, India-bred cows were unable to match the rising demand, as Radhika observes. So they altered the genetic makeup of cows by modifying just one gene, resulting in a 20-litre increase in milk output every round of milking.

This resulted in widespread artificial breeding, unsustainable, and exploitative methods in India, which have resulted in not just mistreatment of dairy animals, but also a reduction in the quality of milk provided by cows.

Independent research surveys, as well as international organisations such as PeTA, have uncovered the horrific ways in which dairy animals are abused, such as artificial insemination using filthy, unsanitary equipment and done forcibly, calves being snatched away from their mothers shortly after birth, culling animals if their milk output drops by a single litre, and so on.

Radhika was outraged to learn that one of India's largest businesses, once responsible for the country's economic rebirth, was now exploiting animals, and she determined to take action.

Founded ‘Farm Aura’

Radhika started Farm Aura in 2020 with her father, Tarun Nichani, and mother, Shivani Nichani, as a sustainable A2 milk enterprise that rescues desi cows that have been abandoned in favour of jersey/genetically modified cows.

The unique selling point of Farm Aura is that it does not follow demand and only sells what its animals produce.

In fact, if the herd has a new mother cow, she is milked just after the calf has gotten its fill for the day, with the surplus milk going to Farm Aura's clients.

"We are an ethical, genuine, and natural farm – we make sure our calves are well cared for, regardless of whether they are male or female," Radhika adds, adding that the animals are just as important to the company as consumers and sales.

Farm Aura, based in Bengaluru, ships some items across India, but the majority of its fresh products, such as milk, cheese, and cottage cheese, are now supplied to clients in Bengaluru.

A Sustainable Dairy Farming Model

Radhika's ultimate goal is to provide a model for sustainable dairy farming for other businesses, and to lead by example to demonstrate that it is possible to be lucrative, generate revenue, and still be humane.

"We hope that our business ideas and ideals can serve as a role model for other farmers in the area someday." We want them to develop at the same rate that we do. Radhika chuckles, "That would be true success for us."

Currently, the self-funded firm sells A2 cow milk, which is the best grade milk produced by desi, indigenous cows, as well as milk products like ghee, cottage cheese, and so on. It also sells a modest number of donkeys' milk. The company has lately begun selling donkey milk soaps and is considering exporting them.

Farm Aura, like most dairy firms, sells through a subscription service and allows clients to order milk separately. Every morning, the milk is bottled fresh, and customers are asked to empty the bottles into their own vessels once they receive their orders, a nod to the traditional milk delivery of the past, which ensures sustainability and is far more environmentally friendly and safe for consumption than milk in plastic pouches.

The company, which began operations in November 2020, already has more than 50 regular clients and sells 250 litres of milk every week. It frequently experiences great demand, but because to its policy of only selling what it can collect, it must turn away many consumers.

Its farm, which is located in Solur, about 45 kilometres from Bengaluru, is home to 40 kangrej and kangeyam cows, which are native to India. Sonu, a halliker calf who was rescued from the slaughterhouse just in time, leads the herd.

The Future

Farm Aura is self-funded, and any profits go toward caring for its resident animals and paying the salaries of the local villagers who help it run its activities. Radhika aims to open up the farm for overnight stays, hold educational programmes, and teach people how to live sustainably in the future.

Akshaykalpa, Ahimsa Milk, and Swarg Foods are among the dairy enterprises that follow comparable sustainable methods or are at least attempting to do so. Other large-scale dairy enterprises are among its competitors.

Source: YourStory

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