Like all mammals, cows only produce milk to feed their young. In intensive factory farms farmers use artificial insemination to ensure that cows give birth every year, so they can be milked. In order to give milk dairy cows must be pregnant or lactating continuously.
The calves are taken away from their mothers in their first day of life, because their milk is destined for human consumption, These small babies are distressed by life without the security of their mothers. The cows are also extremely distressed when their maternal instincts are awakened by giving birth can't be expressed. They bellow for days when their calves are removed.
Induced cows have increased health problems, such as retained foetal membranes and infections.
Modern dairy cows have been bred to produce extreme quantities of milk. Compare their huge udders with the udders of beef cattle, who produce milk only to nurse their calves.
The huge udders lead to painful stretching of their ligaments, and dairy cows are susceptible to mastitis, painful infections of the teats and udders. Dairy cows are also at risk of laminitis, an excruciating condition of their feet, caused by the weight of they unnaturally huge udders.
In Victoria, some farmers still remove the tails of dairy cows, either with knives or rubber bands that cause their tails to wither and drop off. Evidence shows tail docking makes no difference to the cleanliness in dairies and definitely causes pain to the cows, both immediately and in the long term due to the masses of nerve endings that regrow in the tail stump. Docked cows also can't flick away biting flies, so they suffer more fly irritation.
All cows are slaughtered when they are past their peak production.
Like humans dairy cows must produce young in order to lactate. Every year these mums give birth to a calf. If she gives birth to a male calf like Louis, these babies are considered a waste product to the industry as males are unable to produce milk. Mum and calf are separated soon after the birth.
Every year around 800,000 mainly male or bobby calves are slaughtered in Australia before they are a week old.
Dairy calves, unless they are raised to replace cows in the herd, are unwanted by-products of the cruel milk industry. These females and male calves are trucked off to slaughter when they are only 5 days old. Some male calves are raised for 4 months for veal.
Young dairy cows are routinely de-horned. A hot iron or scoop is used to destroy the horn buds. These mutilations are extremely painful because horns are part of the skull and are supplied with blood vessels and nerves. No pain relief is given when horns are removed.
In "seasonal calving" farmers want all calves to be born around the same time, for their convenience, regardless of when they were conceived. Births are induced by hormone injections in cows that have not calved during the desired time period. The result is an increase in still births and premature weak calves, who may be killed ,at birth, by a blow to the head.
One particularly cruel aspect of dairy relates to the separation of mother cows and baby calves. Mother and baby calf must be separated otherwise the baby would drink most of its mother’s milk, leaving little for the dairy farmer.
Cows and their calves form strong bonds and the separation causes intense distress to both.
If you were a mother, how would you feel if your baby was taken away from you as soon as it was born?
Professor John Webster of the British Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council described the removal of the calf as the “most potentially distressing incident in the life of the dairy cow. The cow will submit herself to considerable personal discomfort or risk to nourish and protect her calf”. Observers have described cows mooing frantically for days following separation from their calves, and sometimes breaking down fences and walking for several kilometers to be reunited with their babies.
Female calves may later join the dairy herd to face the same cycle of constant pregnancies and separation from their babies. Male calves and surplus females may be reared for veal or may be slaughtered when just a few days old, to end up in pet food, fertilizer and cheap cuts of meat. Not being primarily bred for meat, their flesh is considered substandard by the beef industry. Everyone who eats dairy products is complicit in the grisly deaths of these innocent young animals, without whom milk could not be produced, and to whom it rightfully belongs.
WE DON'T NEED MILK FOR STRONG BONES
We are advised, by the dairy industry, that we must drink milk or eat dairy products to avoid osteoporosis and hip fractures in old age. In fact, countries with the highest intake of milk also have the highest rate of hip fractures.
One reason for this is that more calcium is excreted when the diet is high in animal protein. It is better to get calcium from plant sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables.