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Organic farmer tries out Tai Chi moves to cheer up the cows.

ORGANIC dairy farmers in Wales are trying their hand at the ancient art of Tai Chi in a bid to enhance the calm and wellbeing of their cows.

As National Organic Dairy Week kicks off around the country this week, farmers in their boiler suits and wellies are taking time out to strike Tai Chi poses in fields and cowsheds in order to bring a spiritual uplift to themselves and their cows.

One farmer taking part is Jeff Harris, a member of Welsh organic milk co-operative Calon Wen. He milks a herd of 85 Jersey cows with 60 followers at the 140-acre Hafod Farm, Cilgerran near Cardigan and says that anything that helps farmers to relax is good for the cows.

"Animal welfare is top priority for us organic farmers, we believe that happy cows produce better milk," says Jeff.

"Organic farming, like Tai Chi, is all about maintaining a balance.

"In organic farming we do our best to maintain a balance with nature.

"Tai Chi helps me to feel balanced, focused and calm, and I am sure this is transferred to the herd."

Groups of people practising Tai Chi are common in public parks in the Far East, but something of a novelty in Wales.

"I've been practising the moves with only a bunch of calves watching me curiously, but I think if you did it in the office people might think you were a candidate for the funny farm," he said.

"It's easy for me to do it because no one is going to look at me. But I would imagine it would help someone living at a very fast pace.

"I live in more tranquil surroundings but anything that helps you to relax a bit is a good thing, although you can't let it interfere too much with your work and your daily routine."

Jeff is one of 25 farmers who belong to Calon Wen, which is part of the Federation of Organic Milk Groups. FOMG members have adapted a series of seven traditional Tai Chi routines - one for every day of the week.

Each of the movements has been assigned a series of easy-to-follow instructions created for the agriculturally minded, with names like "up with the lark", "lazily buttoning overalls" and "arms like tractor wheels".

But Tai Chi is not just for organic farmers. Everyone can learn the moves to bring calm into the stress of everyday life. Videos of organic dairy farmers demonstrating it are at www.love-om.com.

Roger Kerr, chairman of Calon Wen and the FOMG, says: "Enjoying organic milk everyday is a great way to enhance your wellbeing.

It's kind to the environment, kind to your body, kind to your wallet and comes from happy and contented cows."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 3, 2008
Words:456
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