THE LIFE OF DAIRY COWS
In commercials, pastures are idyllic, peaceful cows, calves, do not exist. Inoffensive, milk?
Have you ever heard the distress of cows and their young when they are forcibly separated? Why do cows produce so much milk? Where do the steaks come from?
WHY DO MILK FLOW?
Dairy cows are mammals: they produce milk when they give birth to a baby. From the age of 2, every 12 months, they are artificially inseminated and give birth to a calf, which again stimulates milk production.
Genetically selected to produce more milk, a cow now provides an average of 8,400 liters of milk per year, which is three times more than in 1950.
In almost all dairy farms, the calf is separated from its mother at birth or within 24 hours. This is a real tear for the cow and her calf because their relationship is stable and could last for many years. After the breakup, many are looking for themselves while mooing for days. Cows broke down fences and traveled miles to find their baby, sometimes at the risk of their lives.
During their pregnancy, dairy cows continue to be milked; they are therefore simultaneously exploited for milk and their calves. The scientist John Webster believes that this exhausting effort provided daily by their organization would be for a human being; the energy spent by a crazy race of six to eight hours per day.
Driven by hyper-productivity, many cows suffer from painful ailments: mastitis (udder infections) and lameness are very common in dairy farming, as are metabolic and fertility disorders. Cows often have limited access to the outdoors, and farms in closed buildings (“zero grazings”) grow favoring severe lameness.
END OF LIFE AT THE ABATTOIR
While cattle have a life expectancy of at least 20 years, dairy cows are usually killed after five years.
After an average of 2 or 3 calvings and an intensive milk production, exhausted, sick, injured or sterile, the cows are driven to the slaughterhouse: 40% of the meat called “beef” comes from dairy cows.
Milk cows in lactation are sometimes transported without being milked. Some cows are unable to move but are still often carried, in violation of the legislation. Others are shot while waiting for a baby.
Breeders sometimes abandon animals or whole herds: animals die slowly from hunger, cold or lack of care.
In markets or fairs where animals are sold, and during transport, severe breaches of regulation and abuse are regularly noted: blows, electric prods, lack of water and food.
At the abattoir, the fear and stress of animals are palpable. In the smell of flesh and blood, they wait for long hours before being killed. They are then led, somehow, into the slaughter room where some will be stunned before being slaughtered, the others will be executed in full consciousness.
It is absurd to talk about animal welfare in these places.