DAMN DAIRY
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Karen Davis, PhD, President, UPC United Poultry Concerns
September 2017

NOTE: After this was posted online, UPC received two great from Peggy Larson, DVM and Gail Eisnitz, author of Slaughterhouse.

Farmers are not sentimental about "their" animals, and this is a source of pride with them. Yet they have no problem creating smarmy, cloyingly sentimental and dishonest ads on TV and elsewhere about their "wholesome" enterprise and their "humane" animal care – anything to anesthetize the public. Each time I see one of these "dairy pure" types of ads with a farmer holding an inert newborn calf (just taken away from his or her mother), I want to puke and weep with sadness and disgust.

I want all forms of animal agribusiness to be abolished forever asap. I support whatever will make that happen. I will never stop working for an animal-free food supply and for animals themselves until I die trying.

cow and calf

This article derives from an impromptu comment I posted on September 8, 2017 following an article in Animals 24-7: "What is ‘the dairy industry’?"

All I ever had to see of the dairy industry to hate it were images of calves torn from their mothers to be isolated, tremblingly, in solitary crates and hutches. All I ever had to hear were the mothers crying for their stolen newborns. This is not just big dairy operations; it is dairy farming. I remember back in the 1970s being taken by a friend to a small dairy farm in Pennsylvania and seeing the cows and the mud and the cement milking "parlor" and the milking machinery. That was my first glimpse of a bizarre and sickening business considered by everyone I grew up with as "normal." In fact, it wasn’t “considered” at all.

Whenever possible, I post comments to food section articles in The Washington Post and elsewhere pushing back against claims that the mammary milk stolen from mother cows and goats is "necessary" for human calcium; in reality, interspecies mammary milk is not even digestible by the majority of the human population. Even if it were, the business would be what it is, ugly. Despite the machinery, packaging and other things between themselves and the cow or goat, consumers of mammary-gland products are essentially sucking the nipples of a nursing mother robbed of her baby and her baby’s birthright.

I'm one of those people who never realized for the longest time that in order to produce milk, a cow, like all mammals, has to be pregnant. Reading "The Cookbook for People Who Love Animals" in 1983 turned on a light bulb in my brain. That cookbook described how dairy cows have been genetically manipulated to produce such an unnatural amount of milk for human consumption that their udders drag on the milking parlor floor and workers tramp on those swollen, dragging udders without a thought.

The cows, meanwhile, are drained of the calcium they need for their own bones, which are being depleted in order to produce milk for cheese pizzas and anything else it can be poured into for profit. Like hens manipulated for excessive egg shell production, dairy cows develop osteoporosis and painful lameness. They develop mastitis, a painful infection in their udders that leaks pus into their milk. A man who grew up on a family dairy farm in Maryland once told me that they sometimes inserted large antibiotic syringes directly into the cow’s udders to treat the infection.

The bodies of dairy cows are disproportioned by the weight and drag of their abnormal udders, and the cows have to be gotten rid of as soon as they no longer pay their way. Like hens bred for egg production, the cows’ bodies are mere envelopes for their ovaries; after that, they’re done with.

In her book Slaughterhouse, Gail Eisnitz writes that every hamburger contains about 100 “spent” dairy cows. Think about that the next time you pass by the wormy messes in the meat display counter.

Slaughterhouse was first published in 1997.

Slaughterhouse book

Twenty years ago, Gail Eisnitz bore witness to events that are the same today as they were then: Your worst nightmares are “normal agricultural practices.” (See my review of Slaughterhouse.)

Articles I’ve read in agribusiness publications about cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs and other farmed animals being locked in a building in which a fire broke out, quote the “humane” family farmer: "At least no one got hurt." I recall an article about a small dairy farm's cows – those who did not die in the barn fire but were suffering badly from smoke inhalation – being held without help on the farm until the auction truck came to take them away.

Farmers are not sentimental about "their" animals, and this is a source of pride with them. Yet they have no problem creating smarmy, cloyingly sentimental and dishonest ads on TV and elsewhere about their "wholesome" enterprise and their "humane" animal care – anything to anesthetize the public. Each time I see one of these "dairy pure" types of ads with a farmer holding an inert newborn calf (just taken away from his or her mother), I want to puke and weep with sadness and disgust.

I want all forms of animal agribusiness to be abolished forever asap. I support whatever will make that happen. I will never stop working for an animal-free food supply and for animals themselves until I die trying.

-------

Response from Peggy Larson, DVM

As a veterinarian who occasionally worked on dairy farms, I refer to comments by farmers who say they love their animals and interact with baby calves. They don't have time to do this for one thing. And farmers have a different mental "connection" with animals. Having grown up on a cattle ranch/grain farm, we took care of our animals, but when it came time to send them to slaughter, we didn't think about their future. It was part of the business of ranching - raise, sell, slaughter, and repeat the cycle. It wasn't until after vet school that my mindset changed.

I worked as a research technician for the head of the Department of Neurosurgery during vet school. He used to take me along when he did brain autopsies on people who died from strokes, cancer, accidents, etc. He described each part of the brain and told me what the function was. Meanwhile, I am studying animal brains over at the vet school. NO DIFFERENCE. That was when I changed.

Peggy W. Larson, DVM, MS, JD, is a large animal veterinarian and a prosecutor.

Response from Gail Eisnitz, author of Slaughterhouse

Thanks for your terrific essay on problems in the dairy industry.

Painting of Simon in a dairy crate
By Twyla Francois

Just a note to tell you that with the expansion of mega dairies, I'd venture to say that things have gotten considerably worse since publication of my book. We investigated a mega dairy that currently has 55,000 cows and replacement heifers on site. We documented everything from unwanted bull calves being starved to death, beaten to death, and shot, to milking cows having portions of their teats sliced off (without anesthesia) because they were so infected with mastitis.

Likewise, big dairies in western Texas and eastern New Mexico, which house their cows on dry lots with no shelter from adverse weather, incurred losses of 40,000 cows and calves during a blizzard in late December 2015. With 18 inches of snow on the ground and 80 mph wind gusts, most of the cows and calves suffocated in snow drifts. The deaths of 40,000 barely made the news.

Which only goes to show that things have gotten worse in those 20 years.

Gail Eisnitz
Chief Investigator
Humane Farming Association

Twyla Francois
Painting of Simon in a dairy crate
By
Twyla Francois


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