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British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published eight times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

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Academic & Professional Books  Mammals  Insectivores to Ungulates  Antelopes, Giraffes & other Ungulates (Giraffidae - Bovidae)

The Secret Life of Cows

Popular Science
By: Rosamund Young(Author), Alan Bennett(Foreword By)
139 pages, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Faber & Faber
The Secret Life of Cows
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  • The Secret Life of Cows ISBN: 9780571345793 Paperback Jun 2018 In stock
  • The Secret Life of Cows ISBN: 9780571336777 Hardback Oct 2017 Out of Print #236850
Selected version: £9.99
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The Secret Life of Cows

About this book

Cows are as varied as people. They can be highly intelligent or slow to understand; vain, considerate, proud, shy, or inventive. Although much of a cow's day is spent eating, they always find time for extracurricular activities such as babysitting, playing hide and seek, blackberry picking, or fighting a tree. This is an affectionate record of a hitherto secret world.

Customer Reviews


Kite's Nest Farm is on the edge of The Cotswold escarpment. It is run by Rosamund Young, her brother Richard, and her partner Gareth. Nature is left to itself as much as possible and the animals receive exceptional kindness and consideration. Kite's Nest Farm produces beef and lamb from 100% grass-fed animals which are butchered and sold in the farm shop.

Popular Science
By: Rosamund Young(Author), Alan Bennett(Foreword By)
139 pages, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Media reviews

"Utterly beguiling."
Daily Mail

Sunday Telegraph

"A small classic."
Financial Times

"A delightful, spry and neatly crafted book."
Sunday Times

"No one who has read her book will look at cows in the same light again."
– Blake Morrison, Guardian

"A plea for us to appreciate the complex inner lives of our inquisitive, loving, bovine friends."
– Matt Haig, Guardian Books of the Year

"Curiously moving. I felt myself welling up a little at Young's account of being "wrenched" from a deep sleep on a cold February night by a moo of absolute determination. It was Araminta, a mother calling out for her sickly son. This touching book will leave you looking at Friesians in the field – and even a nice bit of rib-eye steak – completely differently."

"One of the most charming and touching books I have ever read. In the Paradise of Kite's Nest Farm in the Cotswolds, cows, pigs, sheep, hens roam freely. Cherished by the author Rosamund Young and her brother Richard, these sweet animals develop totally different characters [...] Hilarious and intensely moving by turns, The Secret Life of Cows also highlights the tragedy and appalling cruelty of factory farming and how fatally harmful it's end product is to the human race."
– Jilly Cooper

"Within a day of receiving this book, I had consumed it. It is engrossing and informative, full of charming stories as it makes the case for regarding animals (cows take center stage, but chickens and others make appearances) as differentiated individuals deserving of our respect and consideration [...] An absorbing, moving, and compulsively readable addition to one's shelf of enlightened animal literature."
– Lydia Davis

"A tiny, extraordinary book about cows and how they live; they have family groups and they certainly have friends. Now I feel that I understand cows and when I see them in the fields I feel that I can say 'hello' [...]
– Clare Balding

"A lovely, thoughtful little book about the intelligence of cows."
– James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd's Life

"Don't smile when you read this, because the implications are serious enough, but what the Young family have discovered is this simple fact, cows love each other. The Youngs are one of the most remarkable farming families in the country."
– Adam Nicolson, The Sunday Telegraph

"A little masterpiece of animal sentience"
The Oldie

"Rosamund knows everyone of her cattle by name and has their monkey puzzle of a family tree in her head. Throughout their lives they are subjected to as little stress as possible. They wander as they like from one field to another, choosing whatever grasses and herbs take their fancy, sheltering behind a hedge here, picking a sun trap there. Rosamund can walk up to almost all the animals as they stand in the field [...] and talk to them. As a level-headed observer, I can testify that some come close to talking to her too."
Big Farm Weekly

"Rosamund Young's book applies Jane Goodall's approach to chimpanzees to a species on the verge of extinction in Britain, the free-range domestic cow. The characters in Young's herd – kind, ingenious, affectionate, as strongly marked as you or me by individual likes and dislikes – make a travesty of the sickly short-lived, merchandised beasts we have bred to replace them. I hope this book helps reverse the trend."
– Hilary Spurling, The Daily Telegraph

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