Is Dairy Ethical?
In order to decide if the dairy industry is ethical, one must first realize that you have been subjected to dairy industry advertising/propaganda all your life. You must try to put everything you have been taught about the industry to one side. First of all, cows are sentient beings.
Definition of sentient
Just like your pet dog or cat, cows have personalities and are intelligent animals that get scared and feel pain and have emotions.
In order to feel empathy for these animals, you need to be able to put your self in their position. Ask yourself, how would I feel if this was being done to me. At the very least you need to be able to put your favourite pet in that position. Ask yourself, how would I feel if that was my pet being treated like that.
How do cows produce milk all the time?
It is no doubt assumed by a lot of people that dairy cows just produce milk all year round for their entire lives naturally. This is not the case, cows produce milk in the same way a human woman produces milk. A human starts producing milk after giving birth. A cow must also give birth in order to produce milk. For this reason, dairy cows are usually artificially inseminated every year. Like a lot of animals including dogs, cats and humans cows have a strong maternal instinct. Within a day of giving birth sometimes within hours, the calves are taken away from the mother. This causes extreme distress to both mother and child. Mother cows have been known to call out for their calves days after they have been taken. Naturally, most of the young calves will go on to be slaughtered as veal.
Veal is a type of meat that is light in colour and soft in texture, its made by chaining the young calfs that have been taken away from their mother to the floor. They are kept in small enclosures where they are unable to stretch or exercise. This keeps their muscles from developing. They also feed them a diet that has no iron in it to induce anaemia, which helps keep the meat white. They are normally slaughtered after just a few miserable months of existence. The way veal is produced disgusts even a lot of regular meat-eaters and is widely seen as unethical along with Foie Gras.
After the cows have given birth, and they are producing milk intended for their calfs, they are hooked up to milking machines 2 or 3 times a day. These machines in no way mimic the suckle of a young calf. Milking machines cause pain. The cows get swollen teats and the teat canals are physically damaged. Dairy cows suffer from mastitis due to these machines. Mastitis is potentially fatal and is the most common disease amongst dairy cows. Amongst other painful symptoms, mastitis increases the somatic cell count in the milk. A somatic cell is another name for pus, and of course, the milking machine does not differentiate between pus and milk. This is why the dairy industry is always trying to lobby to increase an already high acceptable allowance of somatic cell counts in milk.
Due to diseases such as mastitis and lameness, dairy cows are regularly on antibiotics which do end up in the milk. However, the milk is tested and if drug levels are to high the milk is not allowed to be sold for human consumption. Small levels are allowed.
The Life Of A Dairy Cow
After being taken away from their mother virtually at birth, as mentioned male calfs will enter the veal market and female calves will be reared to be dairy cows. Fed either formula or low-quality colostrum because the milk intended for them by nature is being guzzled by a different species that does not need that milk.
At around 15 months old a Heifer (cow that has never had a calf) is forcefully impregnated and around 9 months later gives birth. Soon after her newly born is taken away from her, and she joins the production line. Subjected to all the potential diseases that come with the process of making milk.
A dairy cow will be perpetually kept in this state by re-insemination on a regular basis to keep the milk flowing. The amount of strain this puts on a cows body means that after about 5 years of this process their bodies are spent. At which point they are seen by the dairy industry as no longer profitable. To cash in one more time the dairy cow is sent to the slaughterhouse.
By the time they are killed a high percentage of the cows suffer from lameness. This is due to standing on concrete flooring living in filth and being genetically manipulated to produce more milk. Many dairy cows have unnaturally large udders. The natural lifespan of a cow is around 20 years.
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