Mercy for Animals recently investigated a large, New York dairy farm. ABC News and Nightline both covered the story. Follows is video footage. Please be warned, some of the content may be difficult to watch.
The video is not easy to view. I love cows, they are my favorite of the large farmed animals. Two cows on a small dairy farm in northern California inspired me to go vegan. At the sanctuary, there is Sadie, a cow who I am honored to know and love. She too came from a small dairy farm and her life was miserable - she was tail-docked, de-horned, and deprived of her babies time and time again.
Practices Common on Most Dairy Farms
Tail docking occurs on farms of ALL sizes, not just factory farms. Approximately 1/3 of all dairy cows endure the amputation of their tail without pain relief. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Bovine Practitioners oppose this practice.
Dehorning without pain relief occurs on ALL farms, not just factory farms.
Maternal deprivation occurs on ALL farms, not just factory farms. 100% of all male calves are removed from their mothers the day they are born. 97% of all female calves are removed from their mom within the first 24-hours of birth.
Only 1.7% of the nine million cows in the United States spend most or all their time grazing on pasture. Approximately 75% of all dairy cows never see pasture or graze green grass.
The only practice not common on dairy farms, though often brought up in these discussions, is the use of growth hormone - only 17% of cows in lactation are injected with the hormone. Most dairy cows have been artificially selected to produce 8-10 times more milk than a normal cow would.
So, let's be clear - these horrible things you see in the video? They are not merely restricted to "factory farms". They happen on most farms. Choosing a "less cruel" milk is not making the "most compassionate" decision - becoming vegan is.