In a world where people ‘milk’ animals for every last penny they can make out of them, cows drew the short straw. Cows are some of the most interesting and social animals, with a world of emotions that could be likened to our own, yet we take their babies, their milk, their freedom, their skin, their life...
Just like dogs, cats and other animals each cow is an individual. As the author of The Secret Lives of Cows, Rosamund Young says “[Cows] can be highly intelligent, moderately so, or slow to understand; friendly, considerate, aggressive, docile, inventive, dull, proud, or shy.”
Experts now know cows can even hold a grudge!
Scientists have found that cows can solve complex problems and in fact enjoy the intellectual challenge! Dr Donald Bloom from Cambridge University describes how cows react when they have solved a complex puzzle, “The brainwaves showed their excitement; their heartbeat went up and some even jumped into the air. We called it their Eureka moment.”
Cows also have excellent memories. They remember how to get home, even from great distances. They also use their good memory to remember water holes and their favourite eating spots.
There are roughly 29 million cattle in Australia. Most of these animals are raised to be killed for food. The rest live in a continual cycle of reimpregnation and milking until finally they too are killed. While naturally a cow can live up to 20 years, even dairy cows rarely live beyond the age of 7.
As calves, most cattle (including dairy cows) suffer painful surgical procedures without pain relief, such as: branding, disbudding (where their sensitive horn tissue is scraped out of their skulls with a knife or scooping implement), dehorning, tail docking and males are castrated.
[Cows] are all individuals and all have their own characteristics. They are tremendously curious. They have emotional storms. When it is a miserable, cold day, they will all be miserable, but when it is nice and sunny, you can almost see them smiling.
Feedlots are factory farms for cattle. Cattle may spend up to a year in these miserable places before being slaughtered as 'grain fed' beef. These systems already make up 30 to 40% of Australia’s market, and this percentage is growing. That’s bad news for the animals!
Every year roughly 9 million cattle are killed for meat in Australia. These animals are packed tightly into trucks, and can face many hours without food or water on the way to slaughter. At the slaughterhouse they have a 3 inch bolt shot into their skull, before having their throat slit and being hung up-side-down for their blood to drain from their body.
Most people don't know that the life of a dairy cow is one of udder misery. At 2 years of age, a young female cow is impregnated. When her calf is born he is taken away within 24 hours of birth and usually killed before he is even five days old. The mother is left grieving for her lost calf, whilst her milk, which nature intended for her baby, is milked from her body to go to supermarket shelves.
She is then reimpregnated 6-9 weeks later, and this cycle continues until she can no longer produce enough milk to be considered a ‘profitable unit’. Then, she too is killed.
For the dairy industry, calves are nothing more than a ‘by-product’ of forcing the mother to produce milk. Every year hundreds of thousands of calves are killed as ‘waste-products’ from the dairy industry, either sent to slaughter (around 400,000) or killed on farm in their first week of life so that milk can be harvested from their mothers for human consumption.
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about beef or milk, there are lives at stake! And you have the power to help them. Take up a ‘beef’ with meat and milk, take cows off your plate!
Leather may be no skin off your back, but for the animal whose skin was stolen it means misery, pain and death. And it’s not just a by-product of the meat industry. Many animals are killed just so humans can wear their skin. Much of the leather sold in Australia comes from countries where there are no laws to protect animals from cruelty whatsoever.
Just like fur, leather is someone else’s skin. Whether from a mink, a seal, or a cow, that skin has been stolen from an abused animal. Be a friend to animals and go faux yourself!
Next: The Truth about Sheep »
Branding uses a red hot iron to sear a mark into a cows skin. This is done without pain relief and cows scream out in pain as they are burnt.
Cattle who are not disbudded as calves often have their horns cut off, without anything to ease the pain. This is not only a excruciating procedure but in some regions increases the cow’s risk of getting flystrike, where maggots invade the wound and burrow into the cow’s flesh.
Male calves scream in pain as they are castrated without any pain killers.
Cattle in feedlots (grain fed cattle) are packed into overcrowded pens. Without enough room to exercise properly, and fed hormones to grow ever fatter, many suffer from physical problems including lameness, joint problems and broken bones.
Far from green rolling pastures, today's feedlots are prison camps for cattle.
Cattle are packed onto trucks for the journey to the slaughterhouse, during which they are denied food and water.
At the slaughterhouse, cattle have a three inch bolt shot into their skull. This crude procedure doesn't always work, and sometimes it can take several painful attempts to knock out or kill the animal. After this their throat is cut open.
After having her throat slit, a cow is strung up by her leg to slowly bleed to death.
Cows are well known for their gentle nature and the close bonds formed between mother and calf.
Calves are stolen away from their mother within 24 hours of being born. After being separated, the distressed mother and calf will cry out for each other for many days.
At 5 days of age, calves from the dairy industry can be packed into trucks, sold for pink veal or simply killed as ‘waste-products’. Each year, the dairy industry kills around 700 thousand calves as 'waste products'.
Selective breeding and genetic manipulations mean that a dairy cow now produces up to 35-50 litres of milk per day. That’s 10 times the milk that her calf would naturally need. Many cows suffer ligament and foot problems from the excessive weight.
In India (where much leather comes from), cows are forced to walk huge distances and endure a gruelling trip in cramped trucks. To drive the animals on during the torturous treks they are beaten, chilli is rubbed in their eyes and their tails may be broken.
Cows form complex social relationships and can recognise and remember other individuals (including humans) for many years.
Cows nurture strong friendships with other cows, and spend much of their time licking and grooming close friends.
Animal cruelty sucks—but you don’t have to put up with it!
It’s in your power to break the killing cycle. Here’s how: