In the current dairy industry non-“useful” animals – sick or aging dairy cows and most new-born male calves – are slaughtered. Cows are usually killed whilst still young, often at only a quarter of their natural lifespan, because they’re no longer as productive as they used to be. Calves are taken from their mothers soon after birth and fed artificial milk. Due to the ill-health of their mothers, calves are usually too scrawny to be profitable and are therefore killed. But the fate of calves that do live is no better; they will become veal calves, dairy cows or beef bulls.
Seeing as all animals involved in the dairy business are slaughtered at some point, it is questionable whether dairy can be considered as strictly vegetarian.
Cows “milked to death”
Dairy cows are artificially inseminated and forced to churn out calves every year, meaning they are practically always pregnant. In some countries such as the USA, they are also pumped with hormones to produce an artificially high yield of milk. This often leads to a disease called mastitis in which the udders swell up and become extremely tender, as well as causing the cows to struggle under their own body weight. This makes the machine milking process even more painful and uncomfortable.
Supermarket pressure on farmers is forcing small scale farms out of business in favour of mass industrialised farms with herds as large as 8,000. In order to keep costs to a minimum, cows are kept indoors at all times in pens with barely enough room to move, isolated from one another. Living indoors, often on concrete floors, causes lameness, disease and distress. The animals have no access to grass and are artificial fed high-protein concentrates.
So what’s the answer?
It’s a slaughter-free dairy farming model.