This essay looks into the relationship between humans, architecture, landscape, technology, and Dutch dairy cattle, in the context of the current nitrogen crisis and the automation of production.
In this essay, Muñoz Sanz aims to think along how we stopped caring about our cows as companions and how to move forward. Introducing the concept of cow’s Five Freedoms – freedom from hunger, discomfort, pain, and stress, and to express their natural behavior, he exposes these codes that were released from the UK Farm Welfare Council in the nineteen-sixties as one reason to justify automated solutions for dairy farming. Today, with increasing ammonia emissions, the industry with its violent modern reproduction methods along with its automated barns is confronted with demands from NGOs for drastic measures: cutting the farm-animal population by half to protect nature and biodiversity. With that, agricultural policies and milk industry’s battle against its own ghosts and monsters, Muñoz Sanz argues, is clashing with the interests of the animals involved, calling for renewed strategies for degrowth and cross-species coexistence, with lots of accountability and imagination.