Dairy Farmers Waste Milk

On July 4th, participating dairy farmers plan on wasting a day's worth of milk to make a point. They aren't getting paid enough to maintain their dairy farms. So their solution for losing money is to squander a day's worth of milk.

This isn't anything new. Last year, European dairy farmers did the same thing. They dumped a whopping 6.6 million gallons of milk on their fields. Probably not the best way to feed your plants. Belgian dairy farmers alone dumped more than 750,000 gallons of milk.

Of course it is unfair to not be paid an appropriate price for the work you do.

But who is doing the work?

It isn't the humans. While a good farmer may work from sun-up to sun-down on the farm, a dairy cow's body works beyond that. She has been systematically bred to be a milk-producing machine, her body so focused on lactation to the utter detriment of her overall health. She is skinny. Her body is sending the message to lactate, lactate, lactate and the farmer doesn't help - s/he actually encourages the process by milking her. The cow does not have time or energy to spend on stuff like laying down fat or muscle, she must send all of her resources to her udder.

And that udder! It's huge. Sometimes so huge that it causes physical discomfort to the cow. She's dragging around an extra 30-50 lb appendage. Non dairy-breeds don't have that problem. They produce enough milk to satiate the natural thirst of their calves. Of course, humans don't care much about the natural thirst of a dairy cow's calf. In fact, calves get taken away the day they are born, generally minutes after birth. There is no nursing. Male calves get slaughtered, female calves live in isolation, then in small groups, and when their mom is slaughtered, they replace her.

What does the cow get paid? Nothing. As a final farewell, a final "thanks so much", she's killed. She is often lame from the inappropriate diet of grain she has been fed. Her udder is often riddled with infection. More often than not, at a young age, she is incapable of reproducing normally. In a natural setting, cows can remain reproductively sound into their early teens - the average lifespan of a cow on a beef cow-calf operation (she produces calves to send to slaughter) is 10-13 years. The average lifespan of a dairy cow is 4-6. Being bred nearly every single year is an enormous strain on her body. Her reproductive system, sooner than normal, finally just gives up under the stress.

Wasting this milk is an insult. It's bad enough these cows are bred and bred, made to produce ten times more milk than normal, denied normal cow-calf bonding, and then slaughtered...dairy farmers are now going to waste thousands, maybe millions, of gallons of milk? Thanks for adding insult to injury.

Go vegan. Happy cows love vegans.

California Rabbit Rescues Need Help

Northern Californian rabbit rescues have been slammed in the past weeks with several large rescues and cruelty cases. They need immediate help with placement and care of these rescued bunnies. Please look below to see if you can help these rabbits out.

Grass Valley, CA - 27 rabbits
The Grass Valley city shelter confiscated more than two dozen rabbits from an abandonment case in which the rabbits were left without food and water. These are incredibly social and friendly rabbits, mostly lion-rex mixes. Unfortunately, these are the exact opposite of the type of rabbits Animal Place can consider taking (and we could not take 27, by any stretch). These animals need to find homes as soon as possible. The city shelter is considering pressing animal cruelty charges, so it's wonderful they are taking this seriously.

Please contact the shelter at (530) 477-4630.

Martinez, CA - 100 rabbits
An individual involved in selling rabbits was found to have more than 100 rabbits in various stages of poor health, including several dead rabbits on site. The rabbits have been breeding uncontrollably. Many are young and will do well in a companion home. For more information, please visit this blog or Rabbit Haven and find out how you can help.

Simon Sheep

Simon Looking Curious
Simon 9/7/2003-6/18/2010

This is your last photo, Simon. It captures your essence perfectly. Curious, gentle with a hint of jester lurking behind gold-hued eyes.

Nearly seven years ago, you arrived on a cool fall morning - a day-old lamb and already forsaken by the world. Your mom abandoned you and so had the farmer. Like your rescuer, we promised that would never happen again. Promises can be such tricky things.

The first time I interacted with you, you head-butted me. Nine-months-old and king of the world. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when you started to mellow, wanting to receive scratches instead of knocking heads. Whenever it was, I'm sure we all heaved a sigh of relief - finally the king had matured.

Your love was Sophie and the sheep. You wanted nothing to do with the other animals, and focused your entire being on monitoring the flock. I think you filled up with joy each time a new sheep was added - your flock of four grew to eight, and you were content.

In the past year, I watched with pleasure as you sought out people on tours, reveling in their scratches and massages. No more head-butting for you!

Last year, you struggled to overcome bladder stones, mineral deposits that blocked your urethra and stopped you from urinating. The pain you endured was immense and two surgeries later, we hoped against all hopes that it would never happen again.

This past Tuesday, you went blind. Your gut was not working, not moving like it should. We knew that in ruminants, an improper working stomach spells disaster. We threw everything at you to transform sickness into health. When you refused to eat, we rushed you to the veterinary hospital.

You were blocked again. The first attempt at flushing the stones out failed. Surgery was your only option. When they opened you up, the damage was extensive. To fix you meant to hurt you more, and it did not come with a remote guarantee of success. The likelihood of recovery, of never having stones again was nil. This was your final surgery, if you got stones again, we could not help you. Recovery from this surgery is one of the most painful, almost as painful as the stones themselves.

Of course, you were asleep for all this. Unconscious.

Your life, your death - it all boiled down to ten wrenching moments in which we had to decide. Could we put you through months of recovery, then almost immediate blockage, out of a small, tiny hope that maybe, just maybe, you'd live a few months more? Is that what you wanted? Perhaps it was, and perhaps we failed you in the ways only humans can. Perhaps it wasn't.

We took your life because we wanted to take away your immense suffering and almost certain, painful death. Selfish and selfless, the dichotomy of being responsible for another living being's care.

I will hold dear the final moments spent with you. You could not see me, but when you sniffed my hand, I could feel you relax. As I scratched soft cheek and chin, massaged short wool, you leaned into me. We took comfort in each other, in the knowledge that cheek to cheek, we were safe.

We'll miss you Simon. Your mischievous glances, playful nudges, and insistent ploys of garnering attention. Sophie will miss you, her adopted brother, the one who protected and comforted her. The flock is empty without your calm presence. I'm incredibly sorry we could not heal you.

Simon chilling with the plum tree