Dairy Is Scary
Unbeknownst to many, the seemingly innocuous liquid commonly bought at grocery stores throughout the world has extremely violent beginnings with a horrendous death toll attached to it. Cow’s milk has been a staple for many people throughout history, but as the human population has boomed and agricultural practices have been industrialised, the life of the dairy cow has never been so traumatic.
Like humans, cows are mammals, and will only produce milk if they are pregnant or have just given birth. The Australian dairy herd consists of approximately 1.65 million individuals, who regularly undergo a procedure called artificial insemination, which as the name would suggest, requires a farmer to forcefully insert his arm into the cow to inject bull’s semen. This deplorable and highly invasive act is considered to be standard practice. Cows, like all mammals, produce milk solely for their young. Despite this fact, humans are the only species on Earth who not only drink milk of another species, but also drink milk into adulthood.
The separation of mother and calf is usually conducted just 12 hours after birthing, and is undertaken to ensure the largest possible yield can be extracted as well as to hinder the bond between mother and child. Mother cows have been documented to bellow for hours in a futile attempt to locate her calf.
“Behavioural responses indicating stress include restlessness, sniffing, increased vocalisations and activities that would naturally serve to reunite the cow and calf upon separation. For days after their separation, a mother can bellow day and night in search of her calf, often returning to the place where the calf was last seen. There have even been instances of mothers escaping and travelling for miles to find their calves on other farms.” – Voiceless dairy report
Over the past few decades, Australian dairy cows have been selectively bred to produce double the amount of milk than they did in 1979. The increased yield places incredible pressure on the mother cow’s body as she must endure continuous forced pregnancies. It is this relentless process which sees mothers succumbing to disease and routinely being slaughtered at a fraction of their natural lifespan.
The term ‘bobby calves’ refers to calves (predominantly male) which are less than 30 days old and have been removed from the care of their mother. In Australia, approximately 450,000 bobby calves are destined for slaughter each year as they are nothing more than wastage to the dairy industry. This is how Casanova, and more recently, Napoleon, came into our care. Napoleon came to us from a small scale dairy farm, which kills approximately 60 calves per year, covered in his own excrement and with his umbilical cord still attached. The owner routinely shoots the calves in the head at just one day old as it is not financially viable to send them to the saleyard as calves bear little market value. However, more egregious killing methods are undertaken and are completely legal, such as the use of blunt force trauma conducted with a hammer or other similar object.
Other forms of barbaric treatment to cows include:
- Dehorning (without pain relief)
- Disbudding (without pain relief)
- Castration (without pain relief)
- Tail docking (without pain relief)
- Calving induction, which sees cows being injected with hormones to trick their body into premature birthing.
Keeping Mates Off Our Plates
Despite what the dairy marketing machine has instilled in us all, calcium is not uniquely found in dairy products. Plant mylks can be found at any grocer for the same price, if not cheaper, and are rich sources of calcium along with various vegetables and legumes.
A kinder world begins with you.
Recommended reading: https://www.voiceless.org.au/our-approach/research-and-publications/the-life-of-the-dairy-cow