By Kylie Hargrave
Elm Staff Writer
An industry misunderstood by many people to be relatively cruelty-free is the dairy industry.
The first thing to consider is how the male calves born from the female dairy cows are immediately removed from their mothers. These cows are either locked in a two-feet wide chamber for up to 16 weeks on an all-liquid diet to be bred for white veal, killed only a few hours or days after birth for bob veal, or raised in cruel conditions for beef.
For the female calves, life isn’t much better. They are also immediately removed from their mothers, causing the mothers and their children to bellow in distress. The female cows are grown and injected with hormones to cause them to give birth via artificial insemination after only two years of life. Cows aren’t normally developed until four years of age or more. These hormones, such as the Bovine Growth Hormone, cause the cows to produce anywhere from four to ten times the amount of milk they would normally produce with pregnancy. Also, these hormones can cause a painful inflammation of the udders called mastitis. The cows with this condition, as well as lame cows, are slaughtered for low quality ground beef (since their meat is considered too “spent” for anything of high quality). The others are routinely killed after living only four to five years. Cows normally live to be about 20 years of age.
Every female cow is kept pregnant via artificial insemination so that they give birth once a year and constantly produce milk. This causes the cows to be under ongoing physical stress that makes them emaciated when paired with their lack of proper nutrition. Also, another point to consider is the environment they live in, which is not only inhumane, but also utterly disgusting. At large plants, the manure is hardly ever cleaned so that the cows must live in a pit of their own feces. These cows trudge around in this manure all day, where they often get some on their udders only moments before milking. Furthermore, distressed cows often urinate while hooked up to the milking machines. If the cruelty of this industry doesn’t make your stomach churn, maybe at least the gross contamination will.
It’s not our fault that so many of us believe the dairy industry to be cruelty free. They are fantastic at advertising, and every child has been misinformed by pretty pictures of cows grazing happily in fields and information about the great quality of the milk. However, studies have shown that milk isn’t even very healthy for humans. Humans weren’t made to consume milk after infancy, which is why so much of the population is lactose intolerant. Actually, most humans are slightly lactose intolerant, though they may not know it. And it may just be me, but the idea that we are the only mammals in the animal kingdom to consume breast milk after infancy is just a little unsettling in pure concept.