Chakra Living

Violation of ISKCON Minimum Cow Protection Standards

by Balabhadra das (ISCOWP)

Posted April 6, 2007

In response to Madhava Gosh's letter Click Here, I feel compelled to publicly voice my observation on the purchase of new cows to restart the New Vrindavan herd. During the course of numerous discussions with the NV cow department over the last 10 years, it was acknowledged that the breed of choice to restart the New Vrindavan herd would be Brown Swiss.

Last November a donor gave a sizable donation to purchase cows. More cows than we wanted to begin with. At that time, 2 Brown Swiss heifers were located and they were both pregnant. They were purchased and close to Christmas day, they both gave birth to bull calves during the Mangal Artik time (4:30 am). So 2 cows now turn into 4 cows. It was also considered auspicious that both calves born were bull calves, because this will be the 1st ox team for the new herd. So far so good.

About 10 days ago, Ranaka prabhu (goshalla in charge) and I again were talking about the next installment of new cows for New Vrindavan. He said it was hard to find Brown Swiss and he was thinking about the Jersey breed. There was no talk of actually buying the next installment of cows. Three days ago, I heard that 5 pregnant Holsteins had been purchased and they would be arriving on Wed. March 28th. These 5 pregnant Holsteins cost $8,000 and were delivered to the temple.

The problem lies in the fact that the temple goshalla has maxed out the little barn by the temple. The little barn has 8 stalls which will now be filled. The 2 existing calves are now living in what would be the birthing stall and within 2 to 3 months there will be at least another 3 calves. What to do with the calves when the birthing stall is needed?

When I asked Ranaka prabhu about the calves and birthing stall, he said cows could be sent to the big barn in the valley where New Vrindavan ran their commercial dairy that was shut down in 1992. At this location, 2 miles away, 150 cows were milking tied into a commercial dairy quota of milk for sale.

A few years ago, Radhanath Swami and other devotees at NV wanted to counteract the past history of cow neglect that took place at the NV big barn. The consensus was that when the cows are out of sight, less community participation in their care takes place and that's one of the reasons that the cows were neglected. Even today, the old cows and invalid cows are staying at the big barn and do not receive proper medical attention. Guest are not brought down there, nor do the devotees go down there regularly.

Once again, the cows are being sent out of sight, out of mind.

When I asked Ranaka prabhu what the plan was for the new cows and calves, it was stated that there is no plan.

After 12 years of trying to get New Vrindavan to at least name their cows and to at least comply with the Minimum ISKCON Cow Protection Standards, it is now necessary to bring up this current violation. The purchase of these last 5 pregnant cows was a total surprise to the vast majority of community members, what to speak of some of the current Board of Trustees who had no idea that the purchase was taking place. The final straw of Managerial neglect is that there is no plan other than milk production for these cows.

I have been giving seminars at New Vrindavan for several years now entitled HOLISTIC COW CARE: NOT JUST MILK. It is unfortunate that this topic has fallen on deaf ears and that the cows are still considered as CASH COWS for fund raising, for milk production, and possibly for commercial milk sales. My position as the ISKCON Minister of Cow Protection and Agriculture is as an advisor. My advice on this purchase of 5 pregnant Holsteins was not sought. If consulted, I would have said too many cows too quickly. I am writing this letter to go on record that I was not a part of this purchase nor do I approve of this purchase.

Listed below is Standard 9, Requirements for Acquiring Cows, Not Allowed. This is the standard that New Vrindavan has violated.

Not Allowed

  1. Animal Acquisition
    Procuring or breeding of a cow for the purpose of supplying milk without any plan for the care, training and engagement of offspring.
  2. Lack of land and funds for animal care. Failure to provide sufficient land, cowherds, and funds to support the cow and/or offspring.

For a full view of the standards refer to: MINIMUM COW PROTECTION STANDARDS, ISKCON Law 507 Click Here

Go to Section 2: Breeding Standards, Standard 1X Requirements for Acquiring Cows

Your servant,
Balabhadra das
ISKCON Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture
Click Here

March 31, 2007
Dear Kevin,


It was a pleasure to host you for lunch yesterday. As I mentioned to you at lunch, Ranaka prabhu and I had a progressive talk yesterday morning about how to go forward with the cow department including future decision making concerning the cows. As per my conversation with you as well as Ranaka prabhu, we will be writing a proposal to the Board of Trustees and the rest of the community outlining organized decision making for the cows and their land, future arrangements for the cows that exist, etc. ,based on the ISKCON Minimum Cow Protection Standards and tailored specifically for the NV paradigm. This proposal will be solidfied with Ranaka prabhu's input..

In the meantime, I propose that there be a moratorium on the purchasing of any more cows. Ranaka prabhu is in agreement with this.

At lunch, you said it was nice that i weighed in on the cow purchase discussion by replying to Madhava Gosh's letter. I have been weighing in on all cow issues that I have been privy to at NV for the past 12 years. You are aware of this as you stayed with us for awhile about 10 years ago and helped with caring for the cows. I would like to be part of a progressive NV cow and agricultural program. I have dedicated my life to the cause of the cows worldwide, and this certainly fits into my life goals.

We have been invited to attend the World Cow Conference, a once in a life time mega event close to Udipi, India to represent ISCOWP as well as the ISKCON Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture. The actual proposal presentation to the Board of Trustees and community will have to be after we return on May 4. Besides going to India for the conference, we have been asked to go to Germany on the way back to evaluate one of the ISKCON farms in Germany.

After showing you some pictures from my trip in which I visited several farms both in Europe and India evaluating and advising, I thought it may be helpful, if the Board of Trustees was interested (and any other community members), to view a slideshow presentation of some very inspiring farm projects that are highly organized on a spiritual, practical, and financial level and where cow protection is an actuality with teams of oxen working. If any one is interested just let me know.

Your servant,
Balabhadra das
ISKCON Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture
ISCOWP President

Iscowp Inc