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Been There, Seen That, Time to Ditch Dairy!

Been There, Seen That, Time to Ditch Dairy!

Posted 23 April 2011   by 4_da_animals1         Permalink | 30 Comments

Tags: dairy, bobby calves, milk, guest blog

Unleashed Note: A little while ago, 4_da_animals1 posted a thread to the forum describing her experiences doing part time work at a small dairy farm. Most of us already know that male calves (who obviously can't produce milk) are killed as a waste product of the industry. But we were intrigued and disturbed to hear about her day to day encounters, so we asked her to write a guest blog. 

With all the dairy chocolate gobbled up at Easter, we thought this would be the perfect time to share her story:

Having recently turned vegetarian, I can now tell you one way to guarantee to become vegan is to work on a dairy farm.

Needing a job for the summer holidays, I was skimming through the country paper and saw an ad for a job on a dairy farm. Mum had been breathing down my neck to get a job; nothing much else was on offer; and to be honest I was curious to see how dairies treat their animals first hand, so I rang the manager to see if the spot had been taken. It hadn't.

I would be in charge of feeding gorgeous baby calves for a few hours a couple of times a week, and being paid for it. What could go wrong? Turns out being a calf feeder is not all I thought it would be. I had heard stories about the dairy industry being cruel - male calves taken from their mothers and trucked off to slaughter every week - but nothing really hits you in the heart more than seeing the kinds of day to day cruelty these poor creatures go through firsthand.

With images of gorgeous happy calves skipping up to me for a feed, I headed down to the farm with a smile on my face, and high expectations. These expectations, however, were crushed within a few mere hours.

The first thing I clearly remember from stepping outside the car was the smell. The smell of mass amounts of faeces. In front of me were hundreds of cows packed in a small iron pen, one by one being pushed through these huge machines with tubes being attached to their udders - a person behind them, making loud noises and hitting their behinds with a rubber tube, to push them forward.

I was told to throw some rubber boots on, and get in with the cows. The lady pushing the cows forward would be in charge of me, to teach me what to do. As I headed towards her, all I could see were piles and piles of faeces in the pen - so large  that I would get stuck in it. The cows were forced to move through the sludge, which the workers called "mud" to get onto the concrete in front of the milkers. Some cows would trip and fall into the "mud" face first. Some cow's behinds were covered in sores and dried "mud", others were limping, but all were forced further and further forward to be finished by break time.

The one thing I will never get out of my head is the sadness in those cow's eyes. With hung heads, you could tell they could feel every hit, and if you tried to approach them, they would run off, with genuine fear in their eyes of you, the two legged being with a big stick.

Once a cow had given birth, a worker would take the baby away from the mother, and shove him into a tiny trailer attached to the back of the quad bike, awaiting a calf feeder to take him down with the others. Some calves were stuck in that cage for up to 12 hours.

The calves were placed 5 or 6 to a pen. To move a calf into a different pen, they were picked up and thrown over the fence, then left to gather their own feet. Standing in front of the calves' pens for the first time, I looked to my left and was faced with a pile of dead calves covered in flies being thrown on the back of the quad to be taken to the "death pit". In front of me, in the pens, were cute wobbly calves, covered in all different shades of faeces - from other sick calves and calves with the equivalent of diarrhea, which is lethal to a baby calf if not treated within days of getting sick.

It's a calf feeder's responsibility to separate the sick calves from the healthy, and tell the manager when more medicine needs to be ordered. If the manager isn't told, it doesn't happen, and the calves suffer and die as a result. This happened frequently, as the majority of workers just didn't care. They were simply there to get their hours.

Deprived of a mother to drink milk from at a leisurely pace, calves have two opportunities to drink milk per day, having to consume 2 litres of milk on both occasions. If a calf refused to feed from the plastic feeders on the fence, they had a tube shoved down their throat and were forced to feed, with a quiet moan escaping them as the tube slid in. As you make sure each calf consumes its 2 litres, you cannot escape the overwhelming wails of the mother cows that have just had their babies taken from them.

Every single male bobby calf, and any female that was born with a male as twins gets sent to slaughter. The female twins are included, as they have a higher rate of future miscarriage. Miscarriage means no baby, which means no production of milk. Every five days, the truck comes to take the bobby calves to slaughter and their miserable life comes to an end.

Needless to say, I didn't last long working there. And my time there has triggered my decision to go vegan. I do not know of many people who would agree to this treatment of such kindhearted creatures. This was a small country dairy, I could not possibly imagine the kinds of things big companies get away with.

I'm glad I can now give people a first hand account of how animals are treated on dairy farms. And I'll be taking every opportunity I can to inform others! We, as consumers need to show through what we choose to eat and buy that we do not agree with ill-treatment of other living creatures!

Want to uncover more dirt on dairy? Check out this video, tracing the life of a bobby calf:

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Comments
OinkMoo OinkMoo 23 April 2011
1
im doing work experiance on a dairy farm after the holidays to get experiance and to see first hand this treatment. might bring home some calfs if they let me buy some
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Kirrilly Kirrilly 23 April 2011
2
Well done Emma!
This is eye opening for others and very very sad sad However, to have that first hand experience I'm sure it will stay with you forever and effect many people.
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4_da_animals1 4_da_animals1 23 April 2011
3
n_n needless to say, I definatly won't be kept quiet about my opinions of dairy farms after seeing it firsthand.
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...2 ...2 23 April 2011
4
Wow. Well written and really powerful. This is the sort of thing people need to be reading. May I please post it to my blog? Naturally all credit will go to you and you will be linked and listed as my source. happy
I think more people need to hear your story, Em.
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4_da_animals1 4_da_animals1 23 April 2011
5
Of course! happy
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Lars Lars 23 April 2011
6
really good article!
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meh meh 24 April 2011
7
Awesome work, Em! I'm so proud of you happy
I have shared this on FB.
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4_da_animals1 4_da_animals1 24 April 2011
8
To participate is almost scarier. O.O
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4_da_animals1 4_da_animals1 24 April 2011
10
Anytime guys,
and the majority of farms are unfortunatly like this and worse, this is a small town humane dairy farm, I've heard about the kinds of horrors larger comapnies get up to.
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AmyAmeliaRose AmyAmeliaRose 24 April 2011
11
Wow! Really awesome job on the blog Emma ecstatic
It must be scary to see stuff like this up close
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Jane Jane 24 April 2011
12
Well done on a fabulous blog, Emma.
I'll be enjoying all my dairy free chocolate easter eggs even more now after reading this! Thanks so much for sharing that heartbreaking story.
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Avril Avril 24 April 2011
13
I also hand raised a calf from 1 1/2 weeks and they are intelligent, he learnt to came by his name and knew me as his mum.  Thaey are truly like our own babies, shame on humankind.
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Avril Avril 24 April 2011
14
I have to say that would be one of the not so normal dairy farm.  My dad use to milk and I helped out and most are not like that, they should be reported for animal cruelty because that isnt right, all animals have a right to be treated with respect, we never shipped calves off to the sales.  That is disgusting and appalling and farms like that should be shut down or fined hugely.
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Lucinda Lucinda 24 April 2011
15
So sad  sad  This will be posted on my fackbook as well.
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Mean people wear fur Mean people wear fur 24 April 2011
16
This is a great article, I'll be posting it on my facebook happy
Good on you for choosing to go Vegan!
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lividlotus lividlotus 24 April 2011
17
I really hope you're doing alright 4_da_animals.
Thanks for sharing your story!
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TofuUnleashed TofuUnleashed 25 April 2011
18
clap Well done on the blog post Emma- you are a fantastic writer!

It is good to know what really happens, although it is so sad that these beautiful creatures are treated this way, and it is scary to think about the larger dairy operations, as you said.

Good luck with going vegan! dance
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TofuUnleashed TofuUnleashed 25 April 2011
19
P.S. I ate a LOT of vegan chocolate yesterday! pig

banana : Sweet William, Sweet William! banana

and also fairtrade chocolatier dark chocolate...mmm. ecstatic
whilst watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...
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Pegs Pegs 25 April 2011
20
Awesome! It is very powerful! You should print it out on paper, and slip them in Dessert cook books! happy
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VegComfortFood VegComfortFood 26 April 2011
21
Thank you! I have been vegetarian for many years but have really struggled going Vegan. I'm not sure why, I think it's because it's in everything! I also only have this website as my support network as I have only one vegetarian friend and she lives a few states away
every friend i have- even my boyfriend, family and co workers  are meat eaters sad

Although I have influenced them to buy cruelty free beauty products and have the occasional vegetarian meal. I really hope to make some friends who are no longer ignorant of what they are eating.
I am so grateful to this site and all of it's members! clap
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Kirrilly Kirrilly 26 April 2011
22
Oh my lord. I just realised I wrote effect instead of affect. I mean, hopefully it will affect many people and effect change. phew.
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Clud Clud 27 April 2011
23
Wow Animals! Wow. That must've been such a hard experience.....

You wrote that really well too btw ecstatic
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StephyA StephyA 27 April 2011
24
Very good article. I don't know how you worked there for more then a day. You must be pretty strong. Just watching the video attach to this is near impossible. So horrible and sad.
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christi christi 2 May 2011
25
angry  crypeople are just  how can they do things like that to animals and yet keep a straight face and no guiltcry   paw sad
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Lizzi I Lizzi I 30 May 2011
26
It's just so sad :0( Cows are my favourite farm animal.

I wonder what the other farms are like?

I wonder where all that branded milk comes from?

I live in Melbourne.
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Jaimie1 Jaimie1 11 July 2011
27
Just started crying at work. I am a vegetarian turned vegan, as of now. Thank you
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mountainview mountainview 27 December 2011
28
Going vegan isn't the only alternative.  We are an organic farm, that raises all of our calves, all male calves are raised on retired dairy cows.  We have people buying our milk because we don't send our calves off to be killed at one week of age.
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Riley Riley 28 December 2011
29
@mountainview, it's good to hear you don't send your male calves to slaughter at 1 week of age. But you didn't tell us what their ultimate fate is? Do you allow these animals to live out their full life on your farm? Or do you sell these animals to be raised and killed for beef?

I'm also curious that you mention your ex-dairy cows. Do you allow them to live out their full life your farm? I would have thought this would be quite unusual, even for an organic dairy to do. On most farms, I understood that ex-dairy cows are also sent to slaughter.

There may be extra problems around killing calves, but I personally would prefer not to see any animal (regardless of age) have their life needlessly cut short.
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Lil Lil 26 July 2012
30
Such a good article. So heartbreaking, but i'm glad you're helping to get the message out there. I was a vegetarian for 6 years, but watching 'What you never knew about dairy' video last year turned me vegan.
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