Values Exchange


22 Apr 2014 39 Respondents
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By David Seedhouse
VX Community
Genius (55647 XP)
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From grass to glass - is the public fully informed about dairy industry practices?

For cows to produce milk they have to give birth to a calf every year. Most calves are separated from their mother within a few hours of birth to reduce the risk of disease and most do not stay on the farm for long.

The term ‘bobby calves’ refers to newborn calves that are less than 30 days old and not with their mothers. This applies to all male calves and around three quarters of female calves.

Essentially, bobby calves are surplus to dairy industry requirements as apart from the few female calves retained, they are not required for the milking herd.

According to animal rights organisation SAFE, more than 1.5million bobby calves were sent for slaughter in NZ last year.

Many milk drinkers are unaware of these significant numbers.

Few are probably also unaware of the added cruelty these calves are subjected to. Not only are they removed from their mother and transported often without sufficient food and water, it is legally permissible for farmers in New Zealand to kill calves with instruments such as hammers and iron bars in certain circumstances, such as when the calf is suffering.

While the Ministry for Primary Industry and members of Federated Farmers claim incidences of this are very few, others have come forward to highlight its prevalence on NZ farms.

This has sparked the call for law reform and submissions are currently open for members of the public to provide their views on banning blunt force killings.

Is a law change needed to protect bobby calves from blunt force or does this just mask wider issues around cruelty in the dairy industry?

Is eliminating blunt force cruelty enough or do we need to re-examine our reliance on dairy products?

Given that no other animal drinks the milk of another species - except humans (and only humans from a fairly small group of cultures) is it time for a dairy re-think?

It is proposed that dairy production should begin to be phased out in our country.