There is arguably no worse fate than that of a dairy cow. The emotional torment and suffering alone is hard to imagine, but this is coupled with physical hardship and abuse. If you or I suffered the loss of a child we would be showered with love, sympathy, condolences and comfort given every support we need. Dairy cows have to suffer alone, living in horrific conditions with a host of debilitating physical ailments denied of any veterinary care. It’s relentless for them.
Typically, dairy cows are forcibly impregnated starting from around 15 months as soon as they reach puberty. This will happen each year in order to keep their milk production high while they are still lactating from their previous birthing usually at around two months after birth. A farmer will insert his entire arm up to his shoulder inside the cow’s rectum to her cervix and insert bull semen – an extremely invasive and painful ordeal and if done to a human it would be called rape. We have taken full ownership over cows’ reproductive systems.
With the rise of intensive industrial dairy farming practices cows experience an overwhelming number of welfare issues and many ends up having a complete body breakdown.Dairy cows have been selectively bred to produce ten times what is natural, as much as 60 litres a day, with their udders weighing up to 75 kilos coupled with carrying an unborn calf too. Mothers, just imagine the pain they feel from carrying this burden – dairy cows only need milking because they have been bred as milk machines, producing vast quantities of milk and having their babies taken away at birth, they can’t even feed some of the milk to them.
Given a life free of exploitation dairy cows would live up 25 years
No worse fate then that of a dairy cow. Years of emotional and physical abuse and then re-paid by being killed for cheap beef when their bodies decline and are no longer profitable.
Dairy and Inherent Violence
Not only are dairy cows victims of forcible impregnation and child abduction, acts of terrible violence in themselves, but daily physical violence and coercion are unavoidable and inherent in the dairy industry. Dairy cows are sentient beings and have feelings, emotions and personalities. In order to get a 500lb cow to comply with your rigid orders (especially a grieving or depressed one) you will often need to use force or coercion to do so. Beatings, swearing and electronic prodding are widespread methods of daily practice on dairy farms. In India cows that won’t comply have had chillies rubbed in their eyes and tails broken.
Mastitis is a very painful udder infection and a third of British dairy cows suffer from mastitis. Dairy cows have been selectively bred to produce unnaturally high milk yields, today, on average, a dairy cow produces ten times more compared to what they would naturally produce. In severe cases of the infection, the cows are killed.
Many people when they hear about the dairy industry cruelty just say, so I will buy organic in the future. Organic dairy milk just means cows can’t be fed hormones, antibiotics and must be fed organic feed such as corn (which is not good for cows in any case) It’s arguably just a label and can actually mean more harm for dairy cows. Primarily as dairy cows have such huge milk burdens, painful mastitis is commonplace. On organic dairy farms farmers are reluctant to give antibiotics to suffering dairy cows for fear of being stripped of their organic status. In turn, cows with mastitis can have ongoing suffering and be in desperate need of antibiotics. Instead, they may have painful tools pushed into their udders to release the milk. Organic dairy cows suffer the same ordeal as non-organic ones – mutilations, cramped filthy housing, repeated forced pregnancies, stolen calves. In practice organic is usually not much more than a marketing tool and serves only the consumer’s conscience
Dairy farmworkers use blowtorches to burn the little hairs from the cow’s udders which helps the sucking machine to get more milk from the new mother cow by imitating her baby calf’s suckling.
Lameness is widely regarded as a major welfare problem for dairy cows. Lameness can result from infectious disease (such as digital dermatitis and foot rot) or from lesions caused by disruptions of the horn of the claws (e.g., ulcers, haemorrhage, white line separation). Management factors, such as the use of concrete floors, zero grazing, and uncomfortable stalls, are important risk factors underlying the large differences between farms in the incidence of lameness.
This procedure was adopted by some dairy farmers mainly for the benefit of the milker but also in the belief that tail docking reduces the risk of mastitis, improves milk quality, leaves udders cleaner and reduces fly numbers
Tail docking is illegal in the UK since 2007 and in some European countries such as Denmark, Germany and Sweden.
Not only is the procedure painful and may result in chronic pain, shortening the tail prevents the cow from swatting at flies. This results in an increased number of flies around the hind quarters causing distress due to the intense irritation and annoyance.
Some countries where tail docking is banned have used tail tying instead to prevent the tails from hitting dairy farmworkers. This means a cows tail is tied up overhead where they can only stand all day.
Dehorning is the removal of a cow or calf’s horn in order to reduce the incidence of bruising and potential injury to animals or people. When carried out on calves under two months of age, before the horns have attached to the skull, the procedure is termed ‘disbudding’.
Disbudding and dehorning are usually performed by farmers or contractors without the use of anaesthetic or pain relief and result in significant acute pain. Dehorning involves using special equipment to cut through the bone and horn tissue – this is more painful than disbudding. If the calf is not effectively restrained, the procedure is even more stressful for the animal. Studies have also shown that calves not provided with pain relief compared to those who have, have reduced appetite for up to two weeks after the procedure, indicating ongoing pain is being experienced.
Giving birth to large calves repeatedly is incredibly difficult for dairy cows. The farmer will often drag the calf out with a contraption using immense force, as a result she gets permanent nerve damage and can’t control her back legs which results in her doing the splits. to prevent this the cow has her back legs shackled together in a device similar to handcuffs.
Tail TyingIn countries where tail docking is banned farmers often opt to tying a cows tail above them in order to stop them hitting farmers in the face when they approach from behind. This is highly restrictive and uncomfortable for the cow and also means she cannot protect herself from flies and insects.
Mother to Mother
We see milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt but behind these products are violations, violence and unthinkable sufferings. Daisy’s mastitis goes unnoticed, just as her pain from dehorning did. Her grief from her stolen calf is just subsiding amongst her physical pains when she gives birth again only to have her baby taken before her eyes and relive her previous trauma all over again, this is the fourth time. She is existing only to suffer. She can barely walk, her leg muscles collapsing from large calves and her mind is numb. She has no hope or identity. She stands all day on concrete manure laden floors and is a milk robot. She can’t escape the emotional and physical torment, it’s relentless.