Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do – to feed their babies.
Cows on dairy farms are impregnated each year, only to have their calves taken away from them within a few hours of birth. Almost all male calves and about three-quarters of female calves are slaughtered within days. These calves are known as “bobby calves”, and their short lives are filled with misery.
Approximately 700,000 bobby calves are slaughtered every year in Australia. Considered “surplus” by dairy farmers, a bobby calf will be taken from his or her distraught mother and housed with other helpless newborns while they await slaughter. Cows form strong maternal bonds with their calves, and mothers can be heard frantically crying out for days after their calves have been taken away.
Worth little to the dairy farmer, bobby calves often do not receive even basic care. Because they are not intended to live long, they usually receive only one meal a day. They are also fed milk replacer instead of their own mother’s milk since humans want that for themselves. After about five days, the youngsters are crammed onto trucks and transported for up to 10 hours to face a terrifying and painful slaughter.
As with all animals killed for food in Australia, bobby calves have few legal protections. In recent years, the dairy industry pushed through new guidelines allowing them to be starved for up to 30 hours before slaughter – despite the fact that the industry’s own research found that this cruelty is harmful to the calves.
How You Can Help
We can all stop cruelty to bobby calves and other horrors of the dairy industry by avoiding cows’ milk and other dairy products and by choosing plant-based milks and cheeses instead.