The dairy industry wants us to believe a lot of things. They want us to believe that cows just magically produce milk forever. They want us to believe that their cows are happy, healthy animals who are loved and respected. They want us to think that milk is good for us and is the only source of calcium we could possibly find. They want us to believe that there is no problem using a female’s reproductive system for their own financial gain.
Don’t believe them. Don’t believe the picture of that smiling cow on the side of that cheese packet. The life of a dairy cow involves very little smiles for the cows and all the smiles for the humans profiting from them.
These are the sad facts of dairy farming:
* A cow only lactates after she has given birth to a calf, just like a human female.
* Calves are removed from their mothers at between 12-24 hours after birth so that the cow’s milk can be consumed by humans.
* Roughly 400,000 calves who are not wanted as herd replacements or veal meat are slaughtered at 5 days old each year in Australia.
* Calves are allowed to be transported to abattoirs at 5 days old and it is legal to starve calves for 30 hours before slaughter.
* Dairy cows are milked for ten months after their calves are removed and impregnated again as soon as possible (we are talking weeks).
* Cows grieve terribly for their calves when they are stolen from them.
* Cows can lives up to 20 years old. Commercial dairy cows are lucky to live to 7 years old.
* Selective breeding has produced cows who produce 35-50 litres per day, 3 times what one calf would need.
* Dairy cows bodies are put under immense strain. They suffer laminitis, painful ligaments from the weight of their udders and mastitis.
* When dairy cows stop producing enough milk for profit, they are sent to the abattoir to be slaughtered for mince meat. Most are starved for up to a week during transport and at the abattoir.
An friend of mine in her 70s used to live on a dairy farm and often tells me about her past living on and running a dairy farm in Kyabram, Victoria. She said to me recently:
“It was a terrible thing watching the calves be taken away as the mothers desperately tried to go after them. They grieved and called for days. When the Deadman (what her and her children called the abattoir man) came to collect the cows that weren’t good anymore, they just knew. They knew they were going to be killed. It’s a cruel life on a farm”
Something that people don’t often think about when they are drinking their milk, eating their chocolate or eating their cheese is what happens to the dairy cows when they are no longer producing enough milk. They are sent to their deaths. They live their lives being constantly pregnant, having their calves taken away from them and being milked dry daily. This outrageous abuse of the female reproductive system should shock and disgust everyone, but I am especially talking to women who have children when I say – how would you feel if that was you? How would you feel?
The photo above clearly portrays the reality of dairy for dairy cows. These are the feet and legs of “spent” dairy cows in a transport truck. The dairy cows in this image were shipped all the way from Tasmania on a boat and then transported in this truck all the way to an abattoir in North East Victoria. They are slaughtered and turned into mince meat.The dairy industry is currently using new computer technology that can tell them which cow is producing the least and most amount of milk, so the girls who are producing the least amount of milk get sent off to slaughter at quite a young age. These girls in this transport truck were only about 4-5 years old. Imagine having your babies torn away from you your entire life and then being shipped off in transport vehicles as revolting as this, not being milked and getting mastitis on the way, not being fed and then standing in line at the abattoir knowing that you are about to die. Imagine that. All the mothers out there, especially to you – imagine that.
The image above is of a spent dairy cow. She was picked up from the farm she lived at in Tasmania by a truck. She spent 15 hours on a boat from Tasmania to Melbourne. Loaded back onto a truck in Melbourne for the three hour trip to the Victorian Abattoir. She was a dairy cow. She spent her life giving birth to calves who she never got to know because they were taken away from her so her milk could be used for human consumption. Her milk output dropped and she was considered done, “spent”, of no more use to humans…and that’s when she got sent to slaughter. The terror you can see in her eye would’ve only gotten worse as she was unloaded and then slaughtered for mince meat. She was treated as nothing. No-one.
The image above was her last desperate plea for help. There she stood, in that bare paddock at the back of the abattoir. She had no food. She was starving. She hadn’t been milked for some time and her udder was full and painful. As soon as she saw us, she mustered up all the strength she had left and walked over to us as quickly as she could…..and then she pleaded with us for help. She desperately screamed and screamed and screamed at us for help. They all screamed at us for help. Their emaciated, broken bodies, full of milk, standing on dirt and/or mud were asking us with all they had left to please give them food and to please help them…and we couldn’t and it completely broke us to leave them there. This abattoir (Greenhams, Tongala) specialises in slaughtering spent dairy cows to be turned into mince meat for the American fast food industry. They slaughter 700 dairy cows per day. Many of these girls are shipped to Melbourne from Tasmania and then driven three hours to the abattoir. The others are purchased by the abattoir from farmers mostly around the area. We saw them on Friday and they had no food. They were still there on Saturday and had no food except for the little my friend was able to give them.
At the end of a dairy cow’s life, she is kept in an abattoir holding yard or paddock until it’s her time to be slaughtered. She is not fed or watered. Her udder is full to bursting and is incredibly painful. This is an explanation of what happens in the final minutes of their lives from an activist who worked undercover in this abattoir:
“They come up the race, they’re stunned, have their throats slit and then their bodies are hooked up by their leg. Their severed heads are hung up by a hook under their chin
Sometimes when they are lifted up their legs are not strong enough to support the weight of their bodies. It would be due to calcium deficiencies etc. and their bodies tear off and hit the ground. They are then deemed not fit for human consumption.”
If the cows being slaughtered are pregnant, the foetus is cut out of them and the blood is extracted from the foetus by hanging it up on hooks and making it’s legs move rapidly whilst the blood is pumped out of them. This blood (fetal bovine serum) is the most widely used serum-supplement for the in vitro cell culture of eukaryotic cells. “This is due to it having a very low level of antibodies and containing more growth factors, allowing for versatility in many different cell culture applications” (Wikipedia).
It takes just 40 minutes from stunning until every piece of the cow’s body is packed up in boxes and ready to be shipped out. 40 minutes from being an individual who thinks and feels to being a product to be eaten.
This is dairy.
Please re-think using these female bodies and condemning them to a life of grief for your food choices.
* Images taken at the Tongala abattoir were taken from a public road. Abattoir workers chased us in their utes to intimidate us to leave town. This is how much they don’t want you to know about their practices. Please share this so everybody knows!.
Please don’t use my images without permission. All images are Copyright Tamara Kenneally