The Book

The Secret Life of Cows

At Kite’s Nest Farm in Worcestershire all the cows roam free. They all have names and very definite characters. This book is based on forty years of Rosamund Young’s close observation of her herd. Her charming commentary reveals that cows love, play games, bond, and form life-long friendships. They grieve, hold grudges, have preferences, and can be vain.

It’s a secret world because so many modern farming practices leave no room for the natural behaviour celebrated in Young’s book. Organised under headings including: ‘A brief note about sleep,’ ‘Different kinds of mooing,’ ‘Cows make good decisions,’ and ‘Bulls are a completely different kettle of fish,’ this book will make you smile and wonder.

Praise for The Secret Life of Cows:

“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.”

Jilly Cooper

“Delightful . . . it alters the way one looks at the world.”

Alan Bennett

“A lovely, thoughtful little book about the intelligence of cows.”

James Rebanks, Author of The Shepherd’s Life

“Wonderful book. Full of rare insights.”

Sheila Dillon, Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme

“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 like saying 'hello' to them!”

Clare Balding

“Every farm should be like this. The animals have space and liberty.”

Jane Grigson, Observer

“A little masterpiece of animal sentience.”

Philip Callow, The Oldie

“Inspiring and important.”

Country 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 Nicholson, Sunday Telegraph

“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.”

Hilary Spurling, Daily Telegraph

“On Kite's Nest Farm there is a real sense of nature in harmony with itself. The cows have names rather than numbers. They live in families and suckle their youngsters. The cows live longer and are healthier because they are under no stress. They have been treated with care and affection all their lives and have no fear of people ... This is a thoroughly old-fashioned farm ... it is well managed and it is beautiful.”

John Humphreys

Buy the book:

The Secret Life of Cows is available at your local bookshop from 5th October 2017. Alternatively you can order it online.

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Buy the audio CD: