Between midnight and 7am on the morning of October 22, 2013 Newbury, MA police received at least four calls regarding “inhuman” noises coming from a nearby farm. According to Newbury police Sgt. Patty Fisher:
“The noises are coming from mother cows who are lamenting the separation from their calves. The separation of mother cows from their calves is a yearly occurrence and is a normal function of a working dairy farm…. We’ve been informed that the cows are not in distress and that the noises are a normal part of farming practices.”(NewburyPortNews.com)
Up until about 6 months ago I counted dairy as one of my favourite food groups. Right up there with chocolate. Milk, cheese, and yogurt. I could not get enough of them.
Then in May of this year I went to see the documentary “The Ghosts in Our Machine” and I heard the words “dairy is the cruelest industry”. What I have learned since then not only horrifies me to the core, but has turned me into an animal activist.
We all know that cows’ milk comes from a dairy cow, and we are sold the myth of the “happy cow”. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
1. In order to get milk from a cow, the cow needs to be lactating. A cow only lactates on the birth of a calf. So, the cow is “artificially impregnated”. In other words raped. There is no other word that accurately describes the forcible violation and impregnation of a female, of any species. In fact the dairy industry even has a term they use to describe the equipment used to forcibly restrain the cow during this violation. It is called a “rape rack”
This procedure is repeated annually until the cow is “spent”. That is, so weak and sick that she is unable to stand or produce any more economically viable milk. This usually happens around 4-5 years of age, at which point she is sent to slaughter. The natural life span of a cow is 4-5 times that. Cows on farm sanctuaries live 20-25 years.
2. When the calf is born, it is removed from its mother at birth. Sometime when only a few minutes old. Almost always within the first day or two. The calves are traumatized and the mothers mourn the loss of their babies.
I would like to read you a quote from Dr. Michael Klaper, physician, author, vegan.
“The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn – only ten yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth – minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days – were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain.”
As a mother, every time I think about this, my heart breaks.
(May 2014: Dairy calves being shipped to auction to be sold and slaughtered for veal. They are only a few weeks old and crying out for their mothers.)
3. What happens to these calves that are removed at birth? Well, if they are male they are either slaughtered immediately or stuck in a crate and sold for veal. To make the veal “tender” these babies are restrained by chains on their necks and fed an all-liquid milk substitute deficient in iron and nutrients. At 16 weeks these calves are slaughtered. One type of veal, “Bob” veal comes from calves slaughtered when they are only a few hours or days old.
Whether you eat veal or not, if you consume dairy you are supporting this industry. Veal is by-product of the dairy industry and arose to deal with the the males calves, that are considered unwanted waste by dairy farmers.
If the calf is female, she is subject to the same cruel fate as her mother.
4. When the calves are removed the cows are hooked up several times a day to milking machines and often drugged to produce up to 10x as much milk as they would naturally produce for their calves. This often contributes to a painful inflammation of the udder called mastisis. According to the dairy industry between 30-50% of all dairy cows suffer from this.
Forcible impregnation, stolen babies, cruel and torturous practices, and early death. Yes, I must agree. Dairy is the cruelest industry.
If you love dairy as much as I did, I ask you to consider cruelty-free plant-based milks and cheeses. There as so many plant-based milks to choose from – almond, soy, rice, coconut, quinoa and even hemp, and many wonderful vegan cheeses. And my favourite – coconut based ice-cream that tastes just like Haagen Daaz.
And, if you don’t think you are ready to switch, I beseech you, the next time you are about to take a bite of brie, please pause, for a few seconds, and consider the true cost of that piece of cheese.
From my speech to Rainbow Toastmasters, Monday November 18, 2013
The true face of the dairy industry:
We are continually lied to by the dairy industry and sold the myth of the happy cow. There is no such thing. Just cruelty and abuse.
Thank you Mercy for Animals Canada and W5 for this expose of the cruel veal industry, which is a by-product of the dairy industry. “Baby calves, just weeks old, are kicked, punched, slapped and yelled at by barn employees. Some are grabbed by the testicles in an effort to force them into narrow wooden stalls. Several are lying gasping for air on urine- and feces-stained slats….. subjected daily to harsh treatment and inhumane confinement for the entire 18 to 20 weeks of their short lives. They are housed in crates so narrow they can’t turn around or lie down comfortably. Many are tethered by chains around their necks“.
Sign the petition: http://www.cratedcruelty.ca/
NEW June 2014 – Horrific abuse at Canada’s largest dairy farm: