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.


kelly g. said...

"Happy cows love vegans."

This would make an awesome t-shirt.

Chris said...

Last week, the Supreme Court slipped another one past the American people. Handing a plum to Monsanto, the animal-farming industry and other multi-national corporations (Cargill, etc.), Roberts & Co. gave every state the OK to develop genetically-modified alfalfa before on-going heath and environmental studies are completed. Vegetable and grain crops ought to be replacing massive acres planted to alfalfa for massive meat fuel production. Monsanto, monoculture and the animal farming industry are the beneficiaries. Sustainable, alternative and organic cultures have been summarily dismissed by our own court of last resort.