The Truth About Cows Killed For Food

Downed cow with leg abrasions

Cows are gentle giants – large in size but sweet in nature. Curious and clever, they have been known to go to extraordinary lengths to escape from abattoirs. These community-minded animals prefer to spend their time together, and when allowed to do so, they develop complex relationships, similar to the way dogs form packs for companionship and protection.

Cows and other animals used for food in Australia have few legal protections. It is left to states to try to enforce their limited animal welfare laws, but this is difficult as the Primary Industries Ministerial Council has established a separate “voluntary” code for the livestock industry. The recent government-commissioned report on live export found that “[c]ompliance with these codes is not mandated under legislation and they are generally written as guidelines, which are difficult to enforce”.

When they are still quite young, many cows are burned with hot irons (branded), their horns are cut or burned off and males have their testicles ripped out of their scrotums (castrated) – all without painkillers. Many are later sent to massive, barren feedlots, where they are exposed to the elements and fattened before slaughter.

Eventually, all cattle are crammed onto trucks, typically without food or water, to be transported to the abattoir. Many cows die on the way to slaughter, but those who survive are shot in the head with a captive-bolt gun, hung up by one leg and taken onto the killing floor, where their throats are cut and they are skinned and gutted. Some cows remain fully conscious throughout the entire process. As one abattoir worker described it, “They die piece by piece”.

You can help put an end to this cycle of suffering. Browse through PETA’s vegetarian/vegan starter kit for tips and recipes to help you make the transition to a meat- and dairy-free diet today.


Animals Used for Food:

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