News Good News These cows are growing old gracefully in a five-star retirement village
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These cows are growing old gracefully in a five-star retirement village

Mandali lounging with cows at the Hare Krishna farm in northern New South Wales. Photo: Krsna Kirtana
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Cows and bullocks are revered by Hare Krishnas and at their farm, New Govardhana, they even have a cow retirement village.

Hare Krishna devotees have been breeding cows and bullocks at the farm, near Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales, since 1977.

The paddocks are specially levelled, food and water is kept close to the animals, and they are even serenaded in their dying moments.

Krsna Kirtana has been caring for and training cows and bullocks for 30 years.

Krsna Kirtana cares for cows and bullocks at the Hare Krishna farm in northern New South Wales. Photo: ABC Gold Coast/Cathy Border

“We have a nursing home, they have shelters there and they have a nice level grazing field,” he said.

“We take care of their ailments. The vet frequently visits.

“We play nice soothing music for them and chants. They live a nice life.”

They most certainly do.

Cows graze in specially levelled paddocks in the foothills of Wollumbin/Mt Warning.  Photo: ABC Gold Coast/Cathy Border

Bovine families together

Most animals spend their entire lives on the lush 405-hectare property nestled in the foothills of Wollumbin (Mount Warning) National Park, a sacred place to the Bundjalung people.

“It’s quite unique,” Krsna said.

“They’re very attached to one another.

“If you separate them, they certainly let you know.”

Cow feeding time at New Govardhana in northern NSW. Photo: ABC Gold Coast/Cathy Border

In an exception, Krsna recently took on two cows from a nearby farm. Their fate would have been very different.

“All our cows and bulls live their whole lives here and they’re never slaughtered or sent off the farm.”

New Govardhana also has a temple on site, a school, huge organic vegetable gardens, a yoga retreat and pristine streams and swimming holes.

French student Jaurice ploughs a vegetable field with a bullock. Photo: Krsna Kirtana

The Hindu Lord Krishna is said to have loved cows, while the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, said that “the happiness of mankind is directly connected to the happiness of the cows”.

The devotees at New Govardhana say their mission is to serve, worship and protect cows while also educating others in the principles of cow protection.

Krsna loves and respects his animal charges and says the key to training them is a nice, relaxing pace.

Training bullocks

The more feisty bullocks are trained to haul logs from the hills.

They’re the traditional ute,’’ Krsna said.

“We want to show the positive nature of training bulls for the purpose of farming and helping out on the property.”

Those with calmer temperaments are specially trained to be around people at festivals.

Bullocks are “traditional utes” at the Hare Krishna farm. Photo: Krsna Kirtana

“If I’m taking two bulls and a bullock cart on a festival with young children, I’ve got to make sure these bulls are going to behave,” he said.

“When I tell them to stop, they have to stop.

“If I’ve got young kids climbing on the wheel of the cart, I can’t have these boys move an inch.”

Krsna passes on his skills to other devotees, but also local school children.

“We’re training young people on some of the traditional skills,” he said.

“We’re teaching the younger generation how to handle the animals and how to work with them.”

ABC