BULLSH*T – THE HIDDEN STORY OF BULL CALVES
by Nicola Pazdzierska, April 2018 (part 1 of 4)
Latest eye-watering figures from official sources state that in the UK:
1,007,000 calves are born as a result of the Dairy industry every year.
- 95,000 male calves are slaughtered within 3 days of birth
- 392,000 male calves are reared for beef and are slaughtered within 2 years of birth
- 520,000 are female calves who will become milking mothers, but will also be slaughtered within 6 years of birth
- It takes 7 years for a male calf to come to full maturity
The average lifespan of a cow is 18-20 years old!
Today the life of a bull is rarely a happy one. Latest figures * show nearly a 100,000 dairy bull calves in the UK are slaughtered every year as a by-product of milk production.
There is still a need for male semen though to fertilise cows and produce more calves (that is unless you are in China where they are experimenting with cloning cows). But it is becoming increasingly rare for farmers to keep their own bull to run with cows in the fields and serve them. So many cows never go outside these days and they are artificially inseminated with semen straws. Bulls are merely milked for their semen often by means of an artificial vagina and the use of a teaser steer – a castrated male. The sperm is then kept in straws frozen in liquid nitrogen ready for dispatch anywhere in the world. Not much fun!
This clinical practice is now the norm. It might allow one bull to be the genetic father of thousands of calves, but has implications for genetic diversity. It also means farmers do not have to manage a big, dangerous animal, but it is horribly divorced from nature. No more can people see the magnificent sight of a bull weighing as much as one-and-a-half tons charging down a field.
At the Ahimsa slaughter-free farm we have now bought our own Swiss Brown bull. He is due to arrive any day. His name is Superhero and we hope he will please our ladies and produce some fine calves. As soon as he has settled in to the field we have earmarked for him they will be introduced and we will see if the magic happens. Please watch this space to find out how things develop. Will romance bloom? This is episode one of four we will be bringing you over the next few months (look out for the next installment in a fortnight).
* All statistics acquired from AHDB – Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board
The Ahimsa Dairy is about to start a major campaign to raise funds to build state of the art barns for the cows and an iconic visitor centre as we push forward our mission to promote slaughter-free dairy farming worldwide. Farming in harmony with cows and with nature. Farming where cows stay with their mothers, farming where we use a live bull to produce the next generation. Join us … become a cow sponsor or member … help us take the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation to the next level. Together we can change the world and bring about the dairy revolution we have always promised.