Cow Sanctuary and Biogas
As of early 2011, VSPCA is home to 790 animals housed in the “Cow Sanctuary”. That number is larger than all the other sections of the sanctuary combined!
A further breakdown is as follows:
- Cows: 356
- Bulls: 404
- Female Water Buffaloes: 16
- Male Water Buffaloes: 14
These numbers are inclusive of the many calves that live at the sanctuary.
Since 1996, all of these animals have come to us by way of illegal-slaughterhouse operations, illegal-transportation activities, and owner surrenders. Many of the cows were pregnant upon arrival, which served to increase our population upon each calf’s birth. (Read more about the rescue of 160 cows from the Simhachalam temple.)
VSPCA runs a beautiful animal sanctuary, with 2.4 acres dedicated to the large animals. Thankfully, we’ve recently acquired more land and will be building an additional “Cow Sanctuary,” where we hope to house 300. This new land will allow us enough space to let all 790 cows and buffaloes roam, untied, with fewer than 100 per acre. Of course, we would love for them to have even more space and hope that one day we’ll find a donor who will help us make that possible.
Every day, we spend 21,250 rupees ($506) on concentrated feed, dry hay, and some green grass for all the cows, bulls, and buffaloes. Ideally, we’d love to feed them just green grass, but the availability simply isn’t there. One day we hope to acquire additional land, where we could grow our own grass, which would eliminate the need for any other type of feed, drastically reducing our expenses.
In total, large animals consume 20,000 litres of water per day. We’re able to supply this to them with our eight wells, four of which are open and capable of accumulating rainwater. During the dry season, we rely on rain-water harvest pits, which gather groundwater, as well as our 20,000-liter water tank.
There are presently two full-time vets on staff at VSPCA. If any injuries or illnesses arise, they can be tended to immediately. All the cows, bulls, and buffaloes receive a yearly vaccination for Foot and Mouth Disease, and a de-worming every-six-months.
All the animals receive concentrated feed and dry hay two times a day. The ones who are sick or orphaned are fed separately from the others. Due to such limited space, many of the animals are unable to roam. The real-estate business is developing all the property around the sanctuary, which we used to use as grazing land. However, each day we pick a select few and give them the chance to go wherever they please within the cow section of the sanctuary. We anxiously work toward the completion of our new sanctuary, which will more than double the amount of space the animals currently have. When this is completed, we intend to let them roam free constantly.
Unfortunately, people only want cows for their milk, and that results in the illegal slaughter of each of her calves. For this reason, VSPCA only adopts out bulls. We form an agreement with every adoptive farmer that if he ever finds himself in a position where he no longer wants the bull, he must return him to us.
The Usefulness of Cows
Cows are worth so much more than the things for which society gives them credit. For us, the biggest benefit is their dung. It can be used as fertilizer, as well as fuel. This means, the longer the cows live, and are eating a healthy diet, the longer we can grow our food, cook, and generate electricity. Killing a cow for her meat puts an end to her usefulness. We believe cows and bulls should live their lives as happy, and long, as possible. Since there are many humane ways in which they can benefit us, we also believe in taking advantage of those things, as long as we cause them no harm in the process.
This biogas plant holds 85-cubic meters. A minimum of 200 cows giving fresh cow dung is needed to run it. The dung is put into a tank, mixed with water and pushed inside the plant, which has two major chambers. We do this every evening so that by the next morning the gas is formed, ready to be used for the day accordingly. For cooking, we can use it directly, but to run or convert to electricity from the gas, we need to pass through a generator. Presently, 10% diesel and 90% bio-gas can be used. The finished bio-gas product can supply electricity or cooking gas to 50 average families or 500 individual members.
The Costs of Running the Cow Sanctuary
The following is a breakdown of the costs associated with operating the cow sanctuary on a daily basis.
- 3 tonnes of Dry hay: $161
- 20 bags of concentrated feed: $226
- 2 tonnes of green grass: $119
- TOTAL COST: $506
Watch a short video of the cows coming out to feed!
Donations and Sponsorship
We rely heavily on the generosity of people all over the world to keep our sanctuary running. If you would like to make a contribution specifically for the cows, please consider making a donation! Also, consider sponsoring a cow or buffalo on our sponsorship page.