Dairy is scary for cows and calves. Dairy cows and their calves are victims of one of the most cruel, abusive and unnatural production systems imaginable. Like all mammals, cows only produce milk for their young. The calves are competing with dairy industry for their mothers milk. As a result, they are forcibly removed from their mothers, often within 12 to 24 hours of being born. There are over 1.6 million dairy cows in Australia, and each year, approximately 700,000 calves are born into the dairy industry.
Newborns are called "bobby calves". Almost all males and roughly three-quarters of females are sent to slaughter after only five days of life. The dairy industry considers them as a “waste products”. Those who survive are either kept to continue to dairy cycle, or be sold and killed for veal.
The underlying practice of forcibly removing all offspring from their mothers inevitably causes psychological trauma. Dairy cows routinely express their grief at the loss of the their babies, calling for them for days and sometimes weeks. For the calves it is traumatic and frightening.
"The Dairy Cow is exposed to more abnormal physiological demands than any other class of farm animal."
– John Webster, Emeritus Professor of Animal Husbandry, Bristol University’s Clinical Veterinary Science Department
The Unnatural Process
Humans are the only species that continues to breast-feed into adulthood by consuming another species milk. The process of obtaining milk intended for calves is unnatural. Dairy cows are artificially impregnated to ensure consistent pregnancy rates. The subsequent and continuous pregnancies and births, coupled with exposure to a complex range of bacteria, results in approximately 25% of cows suffering from debilitating conditions, such as mastitis and lameness. Adding to the pain, commercial milking machines suck their swollen teats up to three times a day. This results in further complications, including udder deformities, scar tissue and infections.
Some mothers are subjected to induced labour. These mothers suffer from retained placenta, photosensitisation, and decreased immunity, increasing their susceptibility to infection and death. Their babies are often stillborn or born weakened, making them “non-viable” to the industry. In Victoria alone, approximately 100,000 cows are induced per annum.
Cow Milk is Not Meant for Humans
The Harvard Nurses Study found comparatively that individuals who consumed the most dairy suffered the highest number of bone fractures. This finding aligned with other studies that suggested countries who consume the most dairy have the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip fractures.
The often referred to “high-quality protein” – casein – actually causes a broad spectrum of problems for humans. It makes the body more acidic, alters hormones, modifies enzyme activity, increases chances of Parkinson’s’ disease, and has been linked to promoting cancer growth, particularly ovarian and prostate.
Dairy is damaging to the environment.
- It takes an astonishing 4,000 glasses of water to create 1 glass of milk.
- Small to medium dairies can generate between 900-1800 litres of wastewater daily, while larger dairies generate up to 4,500 litres in a single day.
- A single dairy cow produces around 20 tonnes of manure each year - that's a startling 57 litres of manure each day! It would take roughly 40 people to produced the same amount.
- 200 dairy cows can produce as much nitrogen in their manure as a town of 10,000 humans. A lactating cow will excrete up to 73-81% of nitrogen. This can result in dangerous contamination of both surface and ground water.
- Methane is a potent greenhouse gas – around 21 times more potent in greenhouse terms than carbon dioxide. Sheep and cattle in Australia are producing around 14% of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions.
- In 2006 the dairy industry in Australia spent more than $500 million on grains and concentrates, thereby becoming the single biggest user of feed grain of all the animal industries.