With milk prices plummeting and dairy farmers facing increased feeding costs, many are culling their herds in record numbers. It seems that the value of a dairy cow is not what it once was in the industry. Other dairy farmers are not buying. Selling cows that have become too expensive to feed to the beef industry has become the only viable option for the struggling dairy farmer trying to raise cash.
In a further effort to reduce costs, male calves are being subjected to even more callous treatment and cruelty as evidenced by the recent dumping of 30 dead calves at the side of the road in San Joaquin County, California.
While many may be disturbed by the news of more dairy cows headed to slaughter the reality is that all dairy cows go to slaughter eventually. Many consumers mistakenly believe that the dairy industry is somehow less cruel than the meat industry when a strong argument can be made that the opposite is true.
Cruelty is nothing new in the Dairy industry. The cow raised for dairy is born into a life of servitude. A dairy cow must be kept in an incredibly physically stressful continual cycle of pregnancy and birth in order to produce milk. She is artificially impregnated. Then her screaming calf is ripped from her teat immediately after birth, a heartbreaking scene to anyone with half a heart. The heartbroken mother is then confined in a milking apparatus. This cycle is repeated until the cow is considered spent at which time she is finally sent to slaughter.
In addition to the misery suffered by the dairy cow, consider the treatment of the many calves she will bear in her lifetime. The females will be plucked out and raised to join the ranks of their mothers. The males will be sent to slaughter for beef and veal or, as in the recent disturbing San Joaquin County case, have their lifeless bodies illegally dumped at the side of the road. Animal advocacy organization Farm Sanctuary is offering a $2000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of those responsible for dumping those calves.
While the cruel and callous treatment of male calves is well documented, increasing financial pressure on dairy farmers will undoubtedly lead to more cruelty as more farmers try to avoid the costs associated with disposing of their calves through accepted channels. An already cruel industry becomes even more cruel.
From an animal rights perspective, the one positive aspect of this sad development may be the eventual emergence of a smaller dairy industry.
You can learn more about dairy factory farming at Farm Sanctuary.