Cows and their calves are the victims of one of the most cruel, abusive and unnatural production systems imaginable. Like all mammals, including human animals, cows only produce milk for their young. The calves are seen as competition for their mothers milk with the dairy industry and are forcibly removed as quickly as possible, often within 12 to 24 hours of being born. Each year in Australia, approximately 700,000 calves are born into the dairy industry.
An unjustifiable number of these newborns are considered “waste products”. Known as “bobby calves,” almost all males and roughly three-quarters of females are sent to slaughter after only five days of life. Those that do survive are either kept to be killed and sold as veal or they are used to continue the process.
The underlying practice of forcibly removing all offspring from their mothers inevitably causes psychological trauma. Mothers 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. Cows are repeatedly impregnated by force 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.
Alternatively, some mothers are subjected to induced labour. The mothers suffer from retained placenta, photosensitisation, and decreased immunity, leading to increased susceptibility to infection and death, whilst their babies are often stillborn, or born weakened, making them “non-viable” to the industry. In Victoria, approximately 100,000 cows are induced per annum.
Cow Milk is Not Meant for Humans
The Harvard Nurses Study found that individuals who comparatively consumed the most dairy suffered the highest number of bone fractures. This finding aligned with studies suggesting countries that 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.
It takes an astonishing 4,000 glasses of water to create 1 glass of milk. A single cow in the dairy industry produces a startling 57 litres of manure each day, resulting in around 20 tonnes each year. This shocking figure is roughly equivalent to the amount of waste produced by up to 40 people.
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. 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.
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.
Meat and dairy consumers are having the greatest impact on environmental sustainability while vegans have the least impact on sustainability.
Animal Liberation campaigns to end the factory farming of dairy cows in Australia. Our campaign advocates for and promotes the adoption of the wide variety of alternatives to cow milk. As the nutrients found in cow’s milk can be found in plant sources, with the added benefits of fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals, Animal Liberation campaigns to inform the Australian public on elements that the industry would prefer consumers not know. By promoting the adoption of alternative, healthy, and compassionate dietary choices, Australians can refuse complicity in cruel industries and the environmental damage that they cause, whilst simultaneously improving their own health and wellbeing. Some alternative examples are: soy, rice, oat, almond, and coconut.