Our recent investigation into Canada's largest dairy factory farm exposed horrific acts of intentional cruelty, including workers kicking, punching, and beating cows; sick and injured cows suffering from oozing infections and painful injuries without proper veterinary care; and workers using chains and tractors to lift sick and injured cows by their necks.
However, even without sadistic animal cruelty and neglect, there would still be violence and cruelty in every glass of milk, slice of cheese, and scoop of ice cream.
To continually produce milk, dairy cows are repeatedly impregnated. On many farms this is accomplished through artificial insemination, a highly invasive and stressful procedure that is repeated approximately every 12 months. Cows used by the profit-hungry dairy industry are kept in a constant and physically demanding cycle of pregnancy, birth, and lactation.
Newborn calves are typically taken away from their mothers within hours of birth. After being forcibly separated from their calves, cows often bellow for hours or even days, pacing and searching for them. World-renowned cattle experts Temple Grandin and John Webster agree that this forced separation is a highly traumatizing event for the new mothers. Even dairy industry workers secretly admit it. In fact, one of the workers of the dairy factory farm recently investigated by MFA Canada himself stated: "Dairy producers will tell you that [the cows] don't care, but they do."
The distress is also acute for the calves, who grow up without physical contact and affection from their mothers, and often become sick following the separation.
Male calves, who do not produce milk and are thus of no use on a dairy farm, and are often sold to be raised for veal production. A recent MFA Canada exposé of a veal factory farm showed the shocking conditions these young animals are subjected to. Veal is a direct by-product of the dairy industry.
Manipulated by intensive genetic selection, modern dairy cows are forced to produce abnormally large quantities of milk, and subjected to milking machines several times a day. This unnatural production, combined with the physical damage inflicted by the milking equipment, contributes to mastitis, a painful infection of the udder.
While their lifespan can extend to 25 years, cows raised on dairy factory farms become so physically exhausted that they are often culled from the herd and taken to slaughter when they are only four or five years old. Weak, lame, sick, and injured, these "spent" dairy cows are often brutally electrically prodded, beaten, and even dragged before being slaughtered and processed into ground beef.
Thankfully, it's easy to replace dairy, as humane plant-based alternatives abound. From soy to rice to nut milks, cheeses, and ice creams, you can enjoy all of the flavor without the cruelty.
Written By: Dr. Olivier Berreville, Mercy For Animals Canada