UK farmer saves his cows from slaughter, turns vegan

A documentary about a beef farmer who felt so deeply for the cows he was to send to the abattoir that he set them free, will be celebrated at the upcoming Bafta awards..

The little-known short film '73 Cows' by Alex Lockwood is among nominees at the British film and television awards, and tells the story of a Derbyshire farmer with an ethics problem.

Rather than send his cows to slaughter, beef farmer Jay Wilde set them free and gave them to an animal sanctuary.

He told ITV he was always conflicted.

"We always had to keep that distance because you knew they were not pets, they were supposed to be commercial animals," he said.

"That was the difficulty I had, I couldn't really make that seperation," said Mr Wilde.

"You felt as if you were betraying them, because you'd made friends with them if you like."

Mr Wilde, who comes from generations of farmers, found a new home for his cows, worth an estimated £40,000, at an animal sanctuary in Norfolk. 

"It was an enormous relief that I wouldn't have to do this anymore, that terrible conflict was gone." 

He still has some cows, those he and his wife Katja have hand reared, or those too ill to be moved, and said he feels the same way about them as if they were pets.

Mr Wilde will be at his Derbyshire farm during the Bafta Awards, leaving the red carpet to the filmmakers while he concentrates on his future as a vegan farmer.

He is in the process into turning his farm at Bradley Nook into a vegan enterprise and hopes he will inspire others.

"I hope I can promote more sustainable food production and carbon reduction, and make people's lives better."

The farmer turned vegan is keen to stay out of the spotlight should the film win.

"I would be rather embarrassed for myself but delighted for Alex Lockwood and the filmmakers who did all the work, and the cows - the real stars of the film."