So is dairy ethical? for those of you that don’t know the answer to that question or maybe think that its not then let me explain why I think that it is. first off dairy cows are some of the quietest and friendliest of all cattle and that’s because they are in contact with people twice a day every day. \Unlike other breeds dairy cows are breed for milk and would have enough milk to feed 4 or 5 calves whereas a beef breed would only have enough milk for one or possibly two calves.
Some people think that dairy cows are mistreated by farmers but this is simply not true as cows will not let down milk if they are in any way stressed. Sometimes farmers will see this in a heifer that has calved for the first time as the whole milking experience is new to them and an odd nervous newcomer might not let down milk for a few days until they relax and realize that they are not in any danger.
Another issue if cows were stressed or mistreated could be more white blood cells in the cows milk known as somatic cell count which can also be an indication of sub clinical mastitis or a type of mastitis that is invisible to the naked eye. If the somatic cell count or SCC for short then the farmer will be penalised in the price that they receive for their milk.
Diary takes babies
With a lot of dairy farmers working on very tight profit margins already they would not be in business very long if they were mistreating their cows. Another think I have come across several times on adverts and bill boards is Diary takes babies from their mothers which is true but most people that buy a new puppy or kitten or any pet animal for that matter are also taking babies from their mothers.
A dairy calf in my opinion is treated with the same love and care as any baby animal and if they weren’t they would not survive and grow up to become cows or bulls themselves. They need their bed cleaned out and fresh straw they need milk twice a day they need hay and fresh water and also special formulated calf feed to start them eating ration and grains.
Some people also have issues with live shipping and the journeys that male calves travel to reach their new home which is often north Africa. This happens simply because the market to make a profit from dairy beef is not in this country and if people wanted to stop it they could ask there supermarket for dairy beef and offer to pay a bit extra for it. any market needs supply and demand and if the demand is not there for meat from male dairy calves or goats then what is a farmer supposed to do with them if live shipping is stopped. That would only finish off the only available market that is there.
Despite some peoples dislike of live shipping I have not seen any evidence of this having any impact on animal welfare of calves. I saw some hidden video footage once of calves been mistreated by handlers at a port but think this is not widespread behavior. The calves are on a ship with a vet on board to oversee their welfare where they have fresh water and feed and a bed of straw to sleep on.
What evidence is there to say that the journey has any more impact on the calves than a long haul flight or sailing journey for a human being. When the calf has access to feed and water and other calves for company what evidence is there to say that they feel any different than they would being in a pen on their own farm. It is just peoples opinions that some think this is upsetting for the calves and some do not but until some scientific evidence can be found that this is having an impact on the animals mental health or well being then nobody knows for sure.
What I can say as a farmer is that its not in farmers interest to mistreat animals no matter where in the world they are because animals that are well looked after will grow and thrive better and will generally leave the farmer some profit.
Another thing I have heard about the use of artificial insemination being compared to rape which I think is just absurd as cows in a standing heat will spend most of the day jumping on anything that moves and most farms use a bull for natural service anyway. The reason for artificial insemination is you could use sexed semen to get a female calf so you won’t have to be selling bull calves for export and as well as being easier and safer than the bull on the cow it will improve the overall herd by using better genetics.
As I already covered a lot of this on an earlier article I won’t go over the same things again but will just say don’t believe everything that you read online. There are some who won’t believe me and my views so if you really want to know the truth go and work on a farm and get some real hands on experience of how dairy cows are treated. You might even be surprised how well these dairy animals are being treated.