The Dairy Industry

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.

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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.

A dairy cow in an abattoir holding paddock with an engorged and painful udder. She hasn

A dairy cow in an abattoir holding paddock with an engorged and painful udder. She hasn’t been fed for quite some time.

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”

A bobby calf without his mother.

A bobby calf without his mother.

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Natalie Booker - May 31, 2016 - 12:49 am

I’m sorry but this is not how it is… We dairy farmers love our cattle and care for them very well. It makes me want to cry to read things like this as it is so far from the truth.

[…] these powerful photographs from Australian photographer Tamara Kenneally, we see the reality behind the image of the “happy cow” that is often fed to consumers by an […]

Viera Caro - May 24, 2016 - 2:43 pm

People have only TWO choices (sadly, animals have none), they can make the choice to either support the animal exploitaition in the form of buying and consuming products made from animals, or they can make choice not to support it, and not to buy and consume the products made from animals. There is no third choice. To those who’s choice is to support it I can say only this, you can argue unti you are blue in the face, nothing will change the facts of your choices.

Lia Maree - May 24, 2016 - 12:54 pm

Love how people want to claim these photos are a lie….. um if they are fake tamara must be amazing at photoshop! All i see if more evidence that dairy is cruel!

Greg N Shannon Hetherington - December 29, 2015 - 12:00 am

Written by vegans and believed by fools. This is nothing but a prejudiced hater piece designed specifically to defame honest, hard working people who deserve far more respect.

Jess - June 30, 2015 - 12:46 pm

Hi Tamara! I’m sorry people are so nasty on here – obviously shows you are achieving what you set out to! Keep up the great work, hugs from all the cows xxxx

Allison South - May 26, 2015 - 12:26 am

I’m truly shocked at so many people in the world who have no compassion for what happens to all the animals used for human consumption…. The treatment highlighted by Tamara, is just beyond sick, and to all those of you who think its okay, then you should be ashamed.. Why anyone would ever want to eat meat, drink milk, from animals that have been abused in so many ways prior and right up to their deaths is beyond me.. It just tells me there are more vile humans in the world than I could have ever imagined, and “the just don’t care” attitudes of so many here is disgraceful.. I’m proud of the fact that I choose not to eat animals, but if you do, than for gods sake try harder to care about how your food was treated prior to appearing on your dinner plate, and try to be a more compassionate carnivore, by eating humanely-raised & slaughtered animals!!

admin - May 6, 2015 - 10:16 pm

Hi Lippy,

Thanks so much for your great comment, so fantastic points there!
Yes, I am completely and vehemently against all farming and farmers now.
I’ve been to too many farms where the suffering has been so intense that I cannot accept it.
The things that these poor animals are subjected to in these farms and abattoirs has brought me to this steadfast conclusion.

Lippy - May 6, 2015 - 11:53 am

Gotta say that I’ve read your article Tamara,and many of the comments, and I really liked your article, but did find you a bit vehement against all farmers. I am a new Vegan, after 50+ years of being an omnivore. I think I can see both sides of the dilemmas in animal farming.

Historically, evolution has produced humans who adapted to meat consumption during migrations ,(when nothing else provided enough nutrition for these transitional periods). So the human population is made up of those people who seem to do best (health-wise) on mostly meat, those that do best as balanced omnivores, and people who do better on plant-based diets. We are a mixed group. As a general rule, we are all well able to exist on a plant based diet (our most prehistoric diet), but must also be aware that some amino acids and nutrients come directly from the soil (like vbit B 12). From a sustainability standpoint, a vegan diet is kinder to the diminishing resources and increasing pollutions on the planet.

Farming animals for meat and dairy has gone on for millennia, so to blast it generally as cruel, tends to get some people’s ‘backs up.’ Without farming, we would not be where we are today, with comfortable lives about as disconnected from animals (except as anthropormorphising lovers of all thing furry, and squeamish about scaly creatures) as we can get…Most people would not have a clue about how to hunt and prepare their own meat. Or even what wild plants to gather for a plant-based diet.

Today’s farming practices, however, have turned into something of a nightmarish science fiction movie with the general acceptance of ‘Factory Farming’ as a solution to providing humans with ‘cheap’ and plentiful meat and dairy. The traditional farmer (who usually cares a lot about their animals) suffers, the animals suffer (often horribly),and humans suffer from the questionable nutrition from these massive scale operations. Farming seems to be going down a road to perdition and we are all paying a huge price.

It is true that all animals feel pain, enjoyment, fear, sadness, etc. These are very basic experiences of even the most primitive brains. Most higher animals experience a much higher cognitive awareness and the research has just not been done to determine how much! Any traditional farmer will tell you that each individual animal has personality and mood. Any traditional farmer will tell you stories about individual animals…such as the clever cow in Ireland who learned how to pull back gate bolts with her tongue, to release not just herself, but all her mates, each evening after the farmer had put them away. Factory farming has no time for personalities or individuals – it is a numbers game and is about as inhumanely mechanised as we could be. It smacks of ‘Brave New World’ mentality.

The truth is, people have to decide if they truly think of animals as ‘just a resource for eating, a resource to befriend (pets, zoos, and any captivity), or as individual creatures that deserve freedoms similar to that which most humans enjoy. We might think dairy farming is cruel, just like the rape and exploitation of vulnerable women is in some parts of the world. But we don’t address the issue very well. There is no consensus on what constitutes cruelty or inhumaneness. There are rules for some and not for others.

For myself, a person who can mentally connect with most animals, to think of hurting them intentionally, when they have not done anything bad to me, is morally wrong. The pain a plant may feel is not connected to a thinking, feeling brain. Any loss of energy a plant feels, is not expressed as a scream of fear. Plants, algae and fungi are lifeforms that communicate more symbiotically and they regenerate quickly, even when part of them is cut away. Indeed, most animals become the propogaters of such lifeforms through digestion of seeds, collection of pollens, etc. To compare the pain and torture of a plant to that of an animal, is just plain silly and not a thought through concept!

Nicci Hore - April 11, 2015 - 3:39 pm

Get a Fucking life and a real job. This is life. Life on earth have lived on animals for centuries. Just deal with with it and find something else to complain about.

Mereanna Vickers - April 11, 2015 - 1:02 pm

What a pathetic excuse of a factual article this is. Your “facts” aren’t incredibly accurate there for starters. Let me just fix a couple for you. 1. A lot of farmers leave the calves on their mothers for longer than a day because the first milk that the mother gives “colostrum” is very healthy for the calf and can not be sent to the milk factory. 2. You say cows are lucky to live up to 7 years on a farm? Well that’s just a straight up lie, many cows live up to 15 years old on dairy farms. 3. If we were breeding cows that would be strained under their own weight then we would not only put our animals at risk but also cost ourselves a fortune fixing them.
Do you actually realise how much money is spent to keep cows nice and healthy? They don’t just magically appear and become beautiful animals, they take time, love, a lot of money and a lot of hard work. Just to raise 1 calf to a year old costs roughly $2500 plus and that is without getting milk. They need to be vaccinated, wormed, treated for illnesses bought on by grass seeds and flies. All these extra things that I didn’t see you mention. You only focus on those few horrible farms that your judgment is clouded and you don’t realise that there are people out there that care for their animals, that always put them before their own needs so spare me your know-it-all BS and get some actual experience.

Kerryn Walter - April 2, 2015 - 2:31 am

If i could be bothered i would re write this whole opinion piece change the words ‘cows’ to ‘plants’ and calves to ‘fruit and vegetables ‘

“It was a terrible thing watching the vegetables 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 harvester man) came to collect the plants that weren’t good anymore, they just knew. They knew they were going to be killed. It’s a cruel life on a farm”

Darryn Smith - April 1, 2015 - 11:10 pm

Firstly you accuse ‘ALL dairy farmers’ of abusing their cows. Then you lose the ensuing argument because you proved yourself, very simply, to be uneducated. Then you delete the evidence. Then you go and hide down in the emails below so you won’t get replied to pretending you’re some sort of victim calling me an evil murderer. Not hard to see where the ‘ignorance and misplaced rage’ is. Absolutely pathetic!

Lisa - April 1, 2015 - 3:27 am

Darryn you are not only an idiot but an evil murderer for profit. Trust..Im well versed on ALL aspects and your irrationonal anger directed at me loudly speaks to your guilt. Zero interest in viewing your ignorance and misplaced rage further.

Karmas a bitch.. Good luck with that 😉

Lisa - March 31, 2015 - 1:51 pm

Darryn, you are ridiculous! The massive amount of cows is the result of artificial insemination, aka rape. For a farmer you apparently know nothing about the industry. In addition, you LOVE your cows. Correct me if I’m wrong but love typically doesn’t entail murder, killing a being that doesn’t want to die, slitting it’s throat, and profiting from it’s dead body. Save your lies and enjoy your karma

Warren Broad - March 31, 2015 - 12:48 am

Tamara i was just returning your comment to you regarding woe is me farmers

Pilar blas zulueta - March 28, 2015 - 10:52 pm

No como carne ni leche

Debbie Kelleman - March 28, 2015 - 2:31 pm

Talking about all this is great most of us know by now what goes on… Besides for laws needed , sanctuarys are needed ASAP we can talk and talk but wby is no one doing anything?? There are those with funds who can

Jason - March 28, 2015 - 1:31 am

Thank you Tamara. Your work is breathtakingly amazing. This is the story that so many naive minds need to hear in order to change to a more compassionate way of life. Your work is a shining beacon on hope for the hundreds of thousands of innocent and gentle souls that are so callously destroyed each year. Much love and respect.

Jan Lambert - March 28, 2015 - 1:06 am

Dominic Leonard, I did not ‘ACCUSE’ anybody of anything, and I was not being spiteful/nasty in my comment at all. Simply, I eat meat and that is my choice . You don’t eat meat and that is your choice, and that’s life. We do not live in a perfect world and we never will.

Lisa Marie - March 27, 2015 - 11:53 pm

Quote : these dairy fatmers RELY ON THESE ANIMALS FOR THEIR LIVELIHOOD?? Well Warren abusing animals and taking their lives as a livelihood is evil. Period. How can you even utter such nonsense?!

Mary Barnes - March 27, 2015 - 10:28 pm

Congratulations Tamara. Your piece is backed up by the heartbreaking evidence and you have to listen to self centred brutal retards defending their incredible lack of compassion and decency.

Dominic - March 27, 2015 - 10:18 pm

Thank you Tamara for your difficult, courageous and deeply important work. Please keep it up, keep fighting, keep documenting the ugly truth behind animal exploitation.

Milk processing - March 25, 2015 - 10:02 am

You shared very horrible report on dairy industry. It is includes most of true points about dairy that was new information for me. It is another part of dairy industry. Keep up sharing such information with us.

admin - March 24, 2015 - 8:55 pm

Hi Andrea,

What an incredibly rude message. For your information we researched this company and the transport company for many months. One of us even worked at the Tongala plant. Your assumptions are incredibly ignorant and rude. Greenhams have two abattoirs – one in Tongala and the other in Smithton, Tasmania – both have different slaughtering licenses. If you would like to do some research of your own before mouthing off about something you obviously know nothing about, please look at their website http://www.greenham.com.au or contact Page transport for all the information you need.

Andrea - March 24, 2015 - 12:21 pm

I am not sure why it is suggest in this article that cattle are transported from Tasmania to Tongala in Northern Victoria to be slaughtered…

If I could be so bold to suggest that there are indeed processing facilities on the apple isle and that only an idiot would think that cattle would travel hundreds of miles, passing other processing facilities along the way before arriving at Tongala in Northern Victoria?

As you are mostly vegans, you would not know that cattle are sold on weight. To starve any animal for any length of time prior to slaughter would be a loss of income for any processing plant and because of this and a regulated code of conduct simply does not happen.

Jan Lambert - March 24, 2015 - 12:14 am

That is very commendable Tamara, that you have lived that long without animal products and I say that in all sincerity. It is YOUR choice, and it is also the choice of others. It is MY choice to eat animal products along with many others. It is an industry and has been around for a long time, and will obviously remain that way. Your comment to Nicci about ‘these animals won’t exist”..would that be a good thing? Extinction? It is a very emotional subject for you…I can see that. It is distressing of course, that an animal has to die so that human life can survive, but that IS the reality of life. You say that technology allows farmers to see their best producers, but they also put a lot of time and effort into sourcing the best feed for their animals also…good pasture, silage, grains. They breed to produce the best cattle they can, which hopefully should lead to a longer life for that animal. It’s a tough argument isn’t it. Their are pro’s and con’s for everything in life , it’s being able to get through the emotional side and being able to look at both sides of the story.

Nicci Hore - March 23, 2015 - 9:52 pm

So have you got a massive amount of property somewhere to put 1000’s of cows from all farms to live out their lives?????

Jan Lambert - March 23, 2015 - 9:04 pm

Your a very clever person being able to understand cow language. WOW…they pleaded with you for help and food. The cows on the farm next to me have never asked me for anything as they go about their business roaming the paddocks all day! Nicchi is right ..it is life and life in general can be cruel sometimes.if we got upset about every little thing we would lead a very distressing life. People need to eat and drink and how would you suggest we do this otherwise? It’s nice that you care about these animals, but you need to look at it from the practical/ reality side , not just the emotional side.

Yolanda Mendoza - March 23, 2015 - 3:38 pm

Animal cruelty!

Darryn Smith - March 23, 2015 - 6:42 am

Get your facts right before you’re irresponsible enough to start spreading this absolute garbage!!!

Warren Broad - March 23, 2015 - 3:22 am

You are a clown. If you want to see reality make the effort to observe rather than getting 70 year old ld facts. These dairy farmers rely on these animals for their livelihood. They will give more attention to them than you would your grandparents after you force them into the nursing home

Nicci Hore - March 23, 2015 - 2:29 am

This is life.

Cynthia Miller - March 21, 2015 - 8:16 pm

Must stop now

Samy Delgado - March 20, 2015 - 4:08 am

Stop them ! stop animal cruelty !

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