Like all mammals, cows produce milk for their young. And so on dairy farms, cows are impregnated in order to get that milk flowing, while the calves are merely an unwanted by-product. If we didn’t artificially inseminate cows, they wouldn’t produce milk, and if we didn’t take their calf away from them, the milk would be theirs.
Naturally, cows would choose their mate, would give birth infrequently, and spend time suckling their young, forming a bond and protecting them. But the milk industry is ruthless and to keep the milk flowing, cows are impregnated year after year, no matter the toll it takes on the animals’ bodies.
As for the calves, we did not want them; we just wanted their milk, so what happens to them? The females may be reared and used as milking machines themselves, and will endure the repeated cycle of forced impregnation, birth and loss of their young to replace their own mum when she breaks down, exhausted and spent at around the age of six. If the calf is male, he may end up on a veal farm; he may be allowed to grow and then be slaughtered for low-grade meat; or he may be shot at birth if money cannot be made from him in another way. Whatever their fate, they are taken from their mum and not allowed to drink the milk that she made just for them.
It is a ruthless, heartless industry, and the suffering will only end when we stop buying dairy.
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