The milk that cows produce was not created for humans, but for their own offspring. We are the only species on earth to drink another species’ milk.
Commercial milk production is not an easy life for a cow; milk is not a no-kill, vegetarian product. There is plenty of suffering and death in dairy production. Once a cow’s production drops she is slaughtered. Her calves are killed. Yet these animals provide only 30% of beef sold to New Zealanders.
The industry is fouling our environment with pollutants and is responsible for immense animal suffering. Furthermore, the common belief that dairy is healthy is untrue. Consumption of dairy causes many human diseases.
So, what’s wrong with Dairy?
Cow’s milk is formulated to support the rapid growth of calves into cows and bulls. It allows the calf to double their birth weight in one and a half months and to grow to approximately 200kg in a year. It is much higher in protein than required by humans.
That milk contains her antibodies and hormones and may contain chemical toxins she has ingested, such as exhaust fumes, herbicides, pesticides, along with chemical medications such as antibiotics, organophosphate dips and drenches. Pesticides and other chemicals that end up in her fat stores are also passed on in the dairy fat.
What about Calcium?
Humans – like cows – can get all the calcium they need from plant foods. Grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables such as beans, peanuts, parsley, almonds, spinach, onions, sesame seeds, and broccoli all contain the calcium we require, with the added benefit of being a healthier protein and fat source. Many plant-based milk alternatives also provide a good source of calcium, such as soy, rice and almond milks. Calcium can easily obtained through fresh green vegetables, grains and nuts.
Calcium deficiency can be associated with consumption of high amounts of animal protein, or high-fibre diets. Consuming animal protein has been shown to raise blood acidity, which is neutralised by the body leeching calcium from our bones. Dairy products are one of the leading causes of food allergies. Many studies have shown allergies to dairy food cause irritability, restlessness, hyperactivity, bloating, diarrhoea, headaches, lack of energy, nasal stuffiness, sinusitis, asthma, rashes, eczema and hives.
If you eat dairy you support the veal industry. The cow – like all mammals – must get pregnant and give birth to produce milk. Every year the cow is forcibly impregnated (usually artificially by the farmer) and gives birth in order to keep producing. The milk does not just arrive for no reason. When calves are taken to become veal, they’re either killed early-on to be “bob veal” or kept in dark conditions – often chained to restrict movement and prevent muscle development – to provide more tender meat. They’re also fed an insufficient, low-iron diet in order to keep meat pink.
No pregnancy = no milk.
The unwanted by-product of multiple pregnancies too many baby calves. Within 2 days of giving birth, most calves are taken from their mother and either sent to slaughter, kept as veal, sold or a few females kept as replacement dairy cows. Male calves are particularly unwanted, so rarely survive. In New Zealand there are approximately one and a half million calves slaughtered yearly in abattoirs, this does not include “homekill” on farms or calves aborted and killed on the farm.
Can you imagine taking a baby from it’s mother at 2 days old, at 4 days old herding it scared and unsteadily onto a truck, sending it to be stunned and have its throat cut? This is the reality of dairy farming in New Zealand, both on organic and non-organic farms. The bobby-calf meat industry relies on the dairy industry to supply it with calves for slaughter. Without dairy cows giving birth every year, there would be few calves to kill.
What about those calves that don’t even get a chance?
In New Zealand on some dairy farms, there is a practice of early induction – early abortion of calves – from a couple of days to 8 weeks premature to advance the calving of cows. Cows have their calves forcibly aborted – not for health reasons – which some inductions are for, but to decrease waiting time for calving. It is done as a matter of financial benefit and not in the interests of the cow and calf. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, calves that are around 8 weeks premature are killed on the spot, calves born later in pregnancy may survive but risk health problems and their chance of survival is reduced. Justification of late pregnancy abortion is usually that it is more humane to abort a calf and kill it, than to allow it to be born naturally and be loaded onto a truck and taken to slaughter at 4 days old, but all of this is cruel to both cow and calf. Their bodies are used over and over in this way. Cows subjected to inductions have a higher risk of retained placenta, infection, and other serious conditions.
Colostrum – the healthfood?
Colostrum is the thick yellow fluid which is produced by all lactating mammals after giving birth, it is the first “milk” for newborns. It contains protein, nutrients for growth, antibodies for disease protection and immune support. Colostrum is necessary for calf health, growth and protection from disease. The newborn calf is particularly vulnerable to disease – in particular, pneumonia and diarrhea (scour). The colostrum contains extra nutrients and antibodies to help protect the calf at this time. Colostrum is crucial for the prevention of calf diarrhoea and pneumonia. On farms providing colostrum to the health food industry, this crucial food is currently being withheld from calves. It is being stripped from the cow, processed and marketed as a health food supplement. Colostrum is also sold to animal food and medicine manufacturers, for supplemental or replacement feeding.
The Life of a Dairy Cow
In New Zealand cows are forced to milk twice a day for approximately 10 months of the year. There are approximately 3,200,000 cows being milked in New Zealand. The average life of these cows is 5-7 years, after which they are sent off to slaughter due to poor reproduction, reduced milk production, health problems (usually related to stresses of intensive farming) or replacement with younger animals. The life of a cow would naturally be approximately 20-25 years old.
For most of her shortened adult life, she will be pregnant and milked. She is usually mated for the first time at 15 months old having her first birth at 2 years of age (while still a youngster) or forcibly inseminated by the farmer. She should be producing around 30 litres of milk a day. She will continue to be milked for 10 months – but will be made pregnant again within 3 months. For the final few weeks of pregnancy she will be dried out” (stop being milked) and her overworked udder given a rest.
Cows will never have the opportunity to raise any of their calves. The calves will be removed from her at birth or 2 days old. Separation of the cow and calf is traumatic and upsetting, they both cry and search for one another. Over the course of her life she will give birth over and over. She will never know her own children. Occasionally calves are left with mothers for a short time, but that time is limited and depends on the whim of the farmer.
Common problems affecting cattle on dairy farms
Mastitis – The inflammation of the udder caused by a bacteria. Many factors influence mastitis including cracked teats, injuries, poor milking methods. The affected teat may be red, swollen, hard, and the cow may become very ill.
Milk fever – A common disease of high producing cows which occurs in late pregnancy or during lactation (producing milk). It is associated with falling levels of calcium. Signs include restlessness, tremors and staggering, she can become semi-conscious laying down, treatment is required as this can be a fatal condition.
Scours in calves – passing of soft often watery faeces. The calves condition becomes very weak and many can die. Can be caused by stress, poor food, exposure to cold, and transportation.
What can you do?
Stop consuming dairy products and show you do not support the cruelty inflicted on cows and calves. Stop consuming dairy products for the health of yourself and family.