A Dorset farmer has given up all his cows to a sanctuary, becoming a ‘vegan’ farm with no livestock whatsoever.

Laurance Candy of Northwood Farm – a 134-hectare farm in Manston, Sturminster Newton, Dorset – decided to convert his farm from beef to organic milk in 2019, but after losing much of his herd to tuberculosis he decided to transition away from raising livestock altogether.

Since then, he has committed to farming without the use of any animals whatsoever – sending all his remaining cows to an animal sanctuary - and is now the UK’s first certified biocyclic certified farmer, meaning his fields are tended without animals.

Mr Candy said: “It is sad when you rear animals up and have to send them off to a slaughterhouse two years later, you have to question it.

“Farmers run businesses, but at the end of the day, we are human beings. I remember I had some beef animals to sell, but I couldn’t do it; this was probably the first time I had to fight with my conscience.”

Animals serve more uses on a farm than simply being used for livestock, such as fertilising fields, so operating a farm without them entirely poses unique challenges, but after extensive research Mr Candy says he was convinced it was possible.

Mr Candy added: “Many in the farming community believe you need animals to regenerate the soil, but I want to demonstrate you can farm sustainably without animals.

“The idea is to demonstrate that you can farm successfully this way and once you understand soil biology, everything clicks.”

Mr Candy now primarily farms cereals and beans.

Animal rights organisation PETA has recognised Northwood Farm with one of its first-ever farming awards.

PETA Director of Vegan Corporate Projects Dawn Carr said: “By retiring his animals to a sanctuary, Laurence Candy is setting a beautiful example to follow.

“PETA is delighted to recognise this compassionate move and encourages all farmers to grow plants and leave behind the heartbreak and violence of raising animals for food.”