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A Cow’s Milk Is Not Yours to Take

May 3, 2010
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I wrote this last year. I’m giving myself permission to repost it here. As Mother’s Day approaches, I feel it is all the more pertinent.

I am struck by how much we, women especially, ignore or are ignorant of how female farmed animals are treated – the manipulation of reproduction, the forced separation of mother and offspring, all the ways we shape, mold, break females to suit our needs.

Elsa is a former dairy cow, the calves are "by-products" of the dairy industry, unwanted male calves.

This never appeared to me more powerfully than the first time I helped a cow give birth. I have no biological children, so I have no point of reference on what it must be like. There is obviously an intimate connection, the sharing of food and life, but there is that line of separation made most obvious when the infant is so rudely introduced to the world. It all seems so uncomfortable, these months of waiting, belly growing, nourishing this other life. But with few exceptions, the day of birth appears, to all involved, a momentous, dramatic event usually ending with all parties exhausted, but content.

Back to the cow. She was in hard labor, stuck with an oversized calf who just did not want to leave. I could not blame the calf too much. I was asked to help pull this unknowingly stubborn baby from the womb. And I did, literally pulling on tiny hooves and perfect calf legs. Out popped a slimy mostly bovine-looking creature. The birth was shocking for me, though I’m certain not nearly as much as for either cow or calf.

And then.

The calf was whisked away. Away from his mother, from his clan, from those nine months of calf certainty that when he was born, he would be born into something, a world with a mother, with milk. Instead he was carted off. Though only moments old, he sensed the wrongness of this separation and attempted to cry, a strangled sound. His exhausted mother struggled to stand, took a deep breath and screamed. It was an ear-piercing bellow. She attempted to follow her calf, to provide what a mother provides – nourishment, grooming, comfort. She was blocked by gates and people, by space and by unyielding greed for what rightfully belonged to her calf, her milk.

Sadie never groomed any of her own calves

Everything done to a dairy cow is a stripping away of her essence. Her choice in a mate is denied, she is artificially inseminated. Her choice of when to mate is taken from her, she is “synched” to breed with the other cows in the herd. Nearly every single dairy calf is removed from his or her mother the day they are born. She is even denied motherhood. We must add insult to injury by taking control over her milk source, her udder. She is milked on our schedule and bred to produce the amount and type of milk we like. Then, in a cruel twist, we take her milk and use it for ourselves and our children. Milk that nurtures the growth of a frolicksome calf, milk that is given and received on a natural cycle of hunger and satiation, milk that is bovine, not human.

I never gave it much consideration until that heart-wrenching moment of mother lost, child gone. It hit me so hard I could not intentionally drink milk again. As a woman who wants nothing more than to be in control of my own body, of my own decisions and choices, how could I ever deny that to another female? Whether she is bovine or caprine or human, it does not matter. What we take is hers to give and given the choice between feeding a human or her own flesh and blood calf, I think the answer is quite obvious.

Which is why I implore, beg, demand, people to seek out dairy alternatives, to stop being part of this system that exploits what should be a beautiful bond between cow and calf and turns it into profit margins. If not for yourself, then for the cows and calves. Think of Sadie (right ) who gave birth to seven calves and never nursed one, who was tossed aside when she developed an udder infection, whose only worth was in how much milk she produced, how many calves she dropped and not in her intelligence, beauty, engaging personality or her love for other cows. If not Sadie, then think of Freedom, Summer and Nicholas, the boy dairy calves whose first experience of the world was a coldness, a separation, a movement from a warm, soothing womb to the cruel auction block and slaughter. They cannot ask in words to stop drinking milk, but I think they ask with their stories, their clear desire to be a calf in a calf’s world, a mother in a mother’s world, and not  beef, milk, veal in ours.

189 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 10:09 am

    The first seeds of veganism were planted in me when I was pregnant & had a dairy aversion. My body wanted nothing to do with it while pregnant and even when I was nursing later. If I did eat any dairy, my baby had tummy aches, threw up, etc.. It’s a stark realization of our mammalian condition to be pregnant, give birth & nurse a baby on your own milk — and the instinct in me was very strong that my milk was the ONLY food I wanted in my baby.

    I know, on the levels you describe in this entry, what it means to give up dairy.

  2. May 3, 2010 10:09 am

    Thank you for sharing your story again, Marji, for sharing their story. I know it’s not an easy story to tell and publish. It made me sob last year. It made me cry again this year. We’re lucky to have you to relate, in heartbreaking but necessary detail, what you’ve witnessed firsthand.

  3. May 3, 2010 12:00 pm

    Thank you Marji- for speaking for the denied mothers and stolen babies. I don’t know that anything is quite as wicked as this. And the story needs repeating not yearly – but daily, and on the hour and every minute possible… Till their voices are heard!

  4. May 3, 2010 1:11 pm

    Thank you Marji for telling this story. Like you I have never given birth so I can not truly know what it must be to be a mother to a human being. But I wonder what would happen if everyone knew what was happening on the dairy farms. If children were told from a very young age that the glass of milk that they are drinking came from a cow that was not given a choice. That it was meant to go to her child. This is a challenge, to get this message, and others, out there.

  5. Alexa permalink
    May 3, 2010 1:55 pm

    Indeed, thank you Marji for sharing their story.

  6. May 3, 2010 2:49 pm

    Thank you. I really appreciated this post.

  7. May 5, 2010 12:12 am

    Beautifully, achingly, and compellingly told. I’m sharing – for you, for Sadie, for all the mothers. Thank you.

  8. May 5, 2010 3:19 am

    I also disagree people drink cow milk, and my reasons are described here http://healthmad.com/health/milk-is-an-unhealthy-drink-shockingly-untold-truths/

  9. May 5, 2010 10:53 am

    As an abolitionist vegan animal rights activist, I find this utterly heartbreaking. The fact that this doesn’t just happen in isolated incidents but on a massive, industrialized scale is overwhelming to think about. If you believe in Karma, then it’s no wonder that our Earth is screaming, in chaos, war, suffering and pain; What we do to these poor, innocent, sentient, feeling non-human Earthlings eventually comes back to affect all of us.

    I fervently hope that this will “wake up” more people to the madness we are accustomed to. I hope it helps to dismantle the system that oppresses these beautiful creatures. I hope it helps more people recognize the moral “person-hood” that all non-humans are entitled to. Thank you for your articulate and powerful story.

  10. May 6, 2010 11:51 am

    Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for sharing this, Marji.

  11. May 9, 2010 1:49 pm

    I never got to thank you SO much for this post. It really gets the message out there. THANK YOU

  12. Dave permalink
    May 9, 2010 10:48 pm

    Wow. A truly moving story. Thank you for sharing this.

  13. Tina B permalink
    May 18, 2010 8:45 am

    If you look deeper into dairy farming you will relize that cows need to be milked and milking them reduces there chances in getting sub acute or acute mastitis which could kill a cow, most dairy farms treat cows just like we are treated. If a cow doesnt get milked twice a day or if the calf doesnt suck on it the udder can get serious soars and may kill the cow. We all get taken away from our mother sometime and it is just earlier for them we still feed them there milk or milk replacer which gives them the same nutreition that the mother would give.

    • May 18, 2010 9:42 am

      Tina,

      Cows DO NOT need to be milked any more than a human woman needs to be milked. If they were not artificially inseminated and forcefully impregnated, they would not need to be milked.

      Mastitis occurs for a variety of reasons. The largest being the overstimulation of the mammary glands. You do not see the level and degree of mastitis on cow-calf operations that supply flesh for the beef industry, but you see a lot of it on dairy farms.

      If a cow had a stillborn calf, are you suggesting she would automatically be infected with a form of mastitis? Most females dry up, that is they eventually stop producing milk. This can be uncomfortable and yes, it can lead to an infection, but that is hardly a valid reason to support forceful impregnation and maternal deprivation so you can drink something that is unnecessary for human survival.

      As to “we all get taken from our mother” – most of us do not get removed from our mom the day we are born. We are not shuffled off to social isolation and fed milk replacer for the next 16-24 weeks before we are slaughtered or, if we are female, eventually re-bred to produce more babies and milk. No scientist or doctor on earth would suggest that that is a good idea for human beings. Poor analogy.

      Tina, it sounds to me you just want to rationalize away cruelty so you can enjoy milk. That is unfortunate.

      • Tina permalink
        May 18, 2010 1:15 pm

        Marji,

        Beef cows and dairy cows are totally different, beef cows produce less milk, there calves that stay with them are more aggressive then a dairy calf, and so the beef calf drinks more milk.

        If a cow has a still born calf you take her in to milk her EVEN if she has had a dead calf. Cows get treated better in the barn then what they would outsid of the barn.

        I dont like drinking milk but we all need use it in the food we eat. You need to look deeper into dairy farming and go to many of them to see whats up.

      • May 18, 2010 3:36 pm

        Tina, I’ve worked on a dairy farm before. I’m quite familiar with how they operate.

        If you don’t like drinking milk, why do you do it? You don’t HAVE to. You want to. It’s that simple.

        As to the stillborn calf issue – I’m saying IF a cow, out in the field, gives birth and no one is around to milk her, are you seriously proposing that she will get mastitis automatically, no ifs ands or buts? That is ridiculous. Her milk would dry up.

        And sure, cows on cow-calf operations don’t produce as much milk. That’s sort of my point. They don’t have mastitis issues because they are on a natural cycle of nurture and weaning (until their yearling babies are removed to be fattened for slaughter, of course).

        Why be a part of a system that, at its fundamental core, is based on the cruel act of maternal deprivation? You don’t have to. You don’t need to. So why not choose cruelty-free alternatives? There doesn’t seem like a very good excuse NOT to.

      • Kat permalink
        July 30, 2010 6:09 pm

        Humans have not been selected for to produce huge volumes of milk. current dairy cows require milking and in some of the older cows their udder hangs too low and calves have trouble finding the teats.
        and The main cause of mastitis is not over stimulation – it is bacteria getting into the mammary gland.

    • Christina Heasley permalink
      January 25, 2011 9:54 pm

      @ Tina B.

      Really? What rock was the person that told you under?
      Just as a human, a cow only produces milk for her offspring.
      Mastitis is the result of to bacteria getting into the mammary glands and the farmers
      not spending the money to fix it properly.
      As long as a cow stays pregnant she will keep producing milk.
      As far as the still born issue is concerned… Many “decent” and I use that very, very lightly have to bury the stillborn outside the pasture, in a spot very far away since the mother cow will find the grave and bellow out of grief for days. So I can’t imagine what a mother cow goes through when a live baby is taken away from her.

    • Katie permalink
      April 10, 2012 8:42 am

      Wow wow wow. After reading this whole discussion line below, I realize arguing with vegan folks is useless; some people just refuse to see the whole picture. And btw, YES, I have been a dairy farmer, am completely familiar with how it all works. I honestly do hate how calves and cows are ripped apart – I’m actually not a fan of the traditional large-scale dairy farm operation for numerous reasons – part of why I no longer work there. I have a cow myself, a dairy cow who has always had calves by her side, if not her own, then adoptive babies. She nurses them and then when they are older, yes, they are raised for beef cattle. I can milk her too if I so desire. Daisy has the ideal life. However, I am not making money with her and what you all must realize is, if cattle were treated the way you say they should be, unless you plan to have enormous cattle petting zoos to house and feed them, there would be hardly any cattle alive. Make sense? In the real world, if a person cant make money with animals, who can afford to keep them? Same with a dog breeding operation – if you vegans/PETA ppl put out a decree that no one should have dogs as pets and people actually listened, would those breeders be able to keep their dogs? Eventually, no. So when you’re petitioning that no one should eat dairy, remember that also means the near extinction of the bovine animal. That said, there are alternative dairy farming methods such as letting a cow keep her calf and nurse it for a lengthened time, and continuing to collect a cows milk to bottle feed her calf even if it separated from her. I am not a believer in milk replacer. I’ve raised hundreds of calves and natural cow milk seems best. About breeding – many smaller dairy farms do use bulls and those that dont, have mostly chosen not to b/c of the danger of the bull.
      If you take away nothing else from my “speech”, take away this one thing – DO NOT form opinions about such matters until you are FULLY educated about such!! A virtue that PETA seems to be competely unaware of!!

      • Marji permalink
        April 11, 2012 10:01 am

        For someone who doesn’t want to argue, you sure have a lot to say!

        If you hate how calves and cows are ripped apart for a product no one needs to survive, then how on rational-earth can you endorse such a product?

        The “if we didn’t eat them, they would die out” argument is so lame as to barely warrant a response. If cattle were left alone, they would do fine. They fend for themselves on a daily basis on cow-calf operations across the globe. High-lactating cows, if released, would breed with normal bulls and eventually that nice thing called hybrid vigor would emerge and lactation would go back to a normal level.

        As to everything else you write, it STILL all comes down to this – do YOU NEED milk to survive? If you eliminated it from your diet, would you drop dead from its absence? Do you need cow flesh to survive? If it was stripped from your world, would you waste away before our very eyes?

        You won’t.

        We get choices in this world. When the choice involves hurting another living being unnecessarily, we should always pick the option that causes the least amount of harm. When we don’t, we lessen ourselves and do damage to others.

      • Andy_T permalink
        March 21, 2013 5:12 am

        Hmm…

        I am a bit nostalgic that human slaves have become extinct.
        Luckily, their descendants (e.g. coloured people in the US) seem to be doing fine, so we can be really happy that this one worked out.

        Does not make sense to you?
        Maybe I have to reconsider the point, but it was modeled after the “If we did not eat them” example.

        Regards,
        Andy

      • Melissa permalink
        April 8, 2013 1:13 pm

        Right on Katie!

  14. May 18, 2010 3:12 pm

    Hi Tina – The cows that are “cattle” raised for “beef” — How long do they get to live in or out of a barn? 11 months or so? Hardly long enough to even experience a complete cycle of the Earth’s seasons. Such a shame, nonhumans who are so in-tune with nature are deprived of it… While we humans are content in concrete and steel buildings – We deny all that they live for… So we can eat them.

    But you’re wrong about “we all need use it in the food we eat”. Millions of people don’t “need” to use cow’s milk or cow’s flesh or pig’s or any other animal to thrive… Because if it were truly so – That we did “need” it to live — How is it that we humans, no different than you or the next live happily without?

    • Tina B permalink
      May 18, 2010 7:42 pm

      Marji,

      I am saying that if a cow doesn’t get milked within time as you guys are saying that you would want to do..the cow that has the still born WILL get mastitis. NOT saying leaving her out for a day or two after she calves will give it to her but she will start to get the soars that can cause problem and lameness of the cow. Dairy farmers keep up on the calving ease, and the cows about ready to calve we do not keep them out in the pasture and not “notice” them for days.

      I don’t drink milk alot of the time, I milk cows because I love doing it, and plan on staying in the industry. People that milk cows dont HAVE to drink milk.

      Yes, the cows that calves and stays with the mother STILL get mastitis it is the number one thing right now in the industry that is killing dairy and beef cows. Having cows doesn’t mean that we give them shots or BST for them to give us milk. It is still natural milking the cow as long as we dont give them BST for them to milk more.

      This industry is not crule and i think that we are helping them out. If we didnt have this industry and we left cows out in the pasture, the cows would be to cold or to hot and have a lot of heat stress. We keep fans, heaters, bedding and sprinklers in the barn for our cows, like i said alot of our cows get treated better then humans do.

      So if you do not like us milking cows or selling our cows what would you like us to do with them?

      Also, Artificial Insementating, not every dairy farm does A.I. but having it done the natural way they would still be bred cows get bred by the same bull throughout the herd, it seems to me that if you have a bull in with the herd they will get bread anyway, why would we endanger humans instead of picking specific Type production Index sires. Naturally breeding cows also have a harm to them selfs, bulls are very mean and aggressive there has been alot of cows that break there backs, hips or legs due to naturally breeding this way is safer and more conveinient.

      Bea,

      Beef steers live to be 16 to 24 months old before they get slaughtered. It is said that the life span of a cow is 25 but the normal life span of a cow is 16 at the oldest. I think that it is ok for this because it is what most of us Americans eat. Not saying that i am all for Veal i think that all Veal facilities should be shut down due to how young they are and how they are raised in crates. What do you want us do do with our cows if you dont want us to milk them or slaughter them? We would have a over population of cows and nothing to do with them.

      It is understandable with some milking places that should be shut down but not all the dairy farms are bad, we try to help our cows, they are our friends not our “Producers”

      • May 20, 2010 12:30 am

        Tina… Actually most of my searches indicate between 12 – 18 months of age. These include animal ag sites so I don’t think “11 months” was that off. Still, it’s a fraction of a full life — AND it is a life taken that did not belong to any but the one who owned it.

        What I would like done with cows is to stop using their bodies as commodities. Stop artificially inseminating them… Stop “breeding” them. Stop measuring their “estrous cycle”. Stop genetically altering their bodies for better “marbling” or better milk “production”. I’d like to see the “domestic bovine” die out… And they would. They do not reproduce like “rabbits” – The cattle/dairy industries go to great lengths to promote and insure births. There would be no “overpopulation” I assure you.

        This anticipated future will not happen over night. But as we progress and more people see the benefits of a plant based diet, there will be less demand for people to “farm” these creatures, till eventually there are no more in use as “food” animals. When this time comes I’m certain there will be enough sanctuaries and other facilities that will provide forever care for the lucky ones who remain.

        But if you’re saying that you think veal “production” should be halted… In essence you are saying to end the dairy industry. Dairy cannot exist as it does today without “veal”. Females MUST give birth to “give” milk… What else do you propose to do with the “useless” male calves?

        I’m sure there are some dairies that are less abusive to cows than others… But all of them must force a pregnancy on a cow. They must separate the baby from the mother in order to steal the milk for humans. They must “destroy” or “retire” the unproductive members of the herd… There’s just no way they could survive without these practices…. And I wouldn’t call any of these things “friendly” to cows.

  15. henry permalink
    August 29, 2010 1:52 pm

    I have always been taught that living things are divided into plants and animals and i should think that none deserves oppression in a fair and just world. Just wanting to ask people to stop using woods for houses and stop using woods to keep warmth and stop eating vegetables cos poor plants need to also watch their leaves and branches grow… just because animal rights people are louder dont mean they more correct… living things depend on each other to survive and thats why u shud start with telling lions to stop eating calfs in the wild instead of winding over humans eating them….get it straight, its a struggle for survival in the real world!

    • Valgal permalink
      February 19, 2012 10:02 am

      Hey Henry, I understand what you are saying; however, the human race has taken the food chain completely out of balance. We’ve pro-created and dominated to the point where every other living thing is secondary to our needs. For example: We cull seals brutally saying that if we don’t that there will be no fish – no fish for a huge market for a huge population. Those seals didn’t seem to be a huge problem back when everything was in balance – when it was just the natives hunting them for food. Now they are an inconvenience to the livelihood of humans; therefore, their cull is okay… humans are the ones that tip the balance and environment – we create the problems – we take and take from the Earth and we barely give back.. There is no harmony with the environment or other inhabitants of this planet… so normally, hunting and gathering for the needs of the family would be fine; but in today’s world, we’ve turned that process into something cruel on a huge scale.

    • Andy_T permalink
      March 21, 2013 5:18 am

      Henry,

      I hope (and still trust the educational system so far) that you are aware of one of the major differences between plants and animals, e.g. that animals have a central nervous system and thus feel pain, while plants do not.

      Having said that, I have to ask, do you REALLY want to say that there is no difference between, say, decapitating a chicken and cutting a carrot? Just wondering.

      Best regards,
      Andy

  16. Wendy Phillips permalink
    November 30, 2010 3:54 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this story. It really hit home with me who has been a mom to two children and knows the strong bond that exists. This story spurred research on my part and I found that what you say is entirely true; there may be some small farms that exercise good ethics and allow mom and calf to be together only taking an occassional bucket of milk for the family each day like the “good old days”. Now, that everything is so commercialized and the human population has increased astronomically along with human greed and the almighty dollar; this is just pathetic! I know that I will think twice before drinking a glass of milk now. Thank you again for the touching story.
    Wendy Phillips

  17. Christina Heasley permalink
    January 25, 2011 9:43 pm

    This puts into words what I want to express to people when they say that “milk doesn’t hurt the cow” I try to tell them this type of situation but it usually falls on deaf ears or ears that are in denial. Every time I see a family sitting down at an Ice Cream establishment enjoying their cones and sundaes I want to scream. Something so innocent and delightful to them is a horrible life for millions of sentient beings on a daily basis. Cows should have the right to be mothers, period. They should have the right to live long lives and not be enslaved and be in pain their entire lives.

    Once again, a well done article. Thank you for sharing!

    Christina Heasley

  18. Bev permalink
    August 28, 2011 4:33 pm

    I commend you for standing up for something you believe in but I cannot totally agree on your article. Milk is a wholesome and essential food source for humans as well as the baby calf.
    Where I do agree with you is the taking away of a brand-new baby calf and I find that cruel. MOST dairy farmers will leave the baby for at least 3 days to benefit from the colostrum and yes they are then removed. Sounds contradictory doesn’t it?!?

    Well, maybe it is to an extent, but I believe animals were put on this earth for mans benefit and with that comes great responsibility. An animal deserves to be treated with kindness, respect, and to be well-fed.
    Per the calves being so rudely taken away, the cows have been selectively bred to produce great amounts of milk in a day, way too much for the calf to safely suckle. IF left alone with it’s mother beyond the colostrum phase the calf could die from complications arising from over-consumption. How is that for irony?

    We are buying a Jersey cow tomorrow and the only reason I know all of this is from research, my moms experience with her own milk cows growing up, and friends I’ve known with milk cows. My research actually led me to your article and that research was: “Can I leave a Jersey calf with it’s mother” – I am uncomfortable taking a baby from it’s mother, as I said, I find it cruel. So, even though I am not vegan, will drink milk and use it to make milk-based products like cheese etc for my family, I am ‘one of those’ that honestly cares about the animals that provide food for my family. Don’t judge everyone, please, by what the practices of the ‘big’ dairies. So far from my research, I think I’ll be able to let the baby overnight with mom – which is about 12 hours a day – milk her once a day so it’s a compromise.

    • August 28, 2011 6:53 pm

      This is so terribly sad… Only humans could create a seed meant to be food and marry it with a death gene… And only humans could create a poison to a baby that was originally intended to be nourishment.

      I understand that most people… Even those in large mega-dairies and the small ones alike, do not intend to be “cruel”. Just wondering though… If these folks could place themselves in the place of the mother… Or the baby – Wouldn’t they see that their practices actually are so?

      For all the high minded good intentions of kindness… Nothing beats the simple act of following through with honest deeds. How wonderful it would be if mother would be henceforth left without becoming pregnant again… And left without the repeated sadness of having a baby removed after 12 hours… or 3 days… or ever again.

      Finally, I totally disagree with the notion that cow’s milk is a “wholesome and essential food source for humans”. On the contrary, with everything I’ve researched and personally experienced… It is a substance easily replaced with a wide variety of plant based alternatives. They all provide the benefit without the negatives. Indeed some plant based milks are richer in calcium, iron, folate, zinc and vitamin D that cow’s milk are also (or not) “fortified” with…
      http://www.nu-train.com/repository/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/milk-chart.png

      As a once enthusiastic cow’s milk consumer (a quart a day or so)… I can say that almond milk (for me) is the next best thing to sliced bread. I’m totally satisfied nutritionally and with flavor-enjoyment… No need for any calf-tears in the mix. ;)

      • Bev permalink
        October 6, 2011 4:05 am

        How would my practice be cruel? Comparing my farm to the farm you visited and what you stated in your own article, my girls are not ‘synched’, nor are they denied the right to choose a mate (two bulls usually run in our pasture during breeding season), nor will they ever have their calves hauled off the moment it enters this world. They are allowed to calve naturally, unmolested and the way God intended them to do it. Cows have a feral side to them when it comes to their ‘time’ and need their space.

        I respect my animals and I treat them above and beyond. Raw milk is good for you and in my family it is wholesome and essential, but I never said it was the lowest in fat or cholesterol, everything in moderation you know.
        If you want to eat squished up almonds with water be my guest, but I prefer to eat my almonds one at a time and feel the texture and experience the crunch. Each to their own.

        We will not agree on this subject, but do not compare me to the dairies who use hormones and are about the almighty dollar. We have a family farm where every animal fills a need and in turn we take excellent care of them and care about them.

        I’m curious to know, you speak so passionately about this subject, have you ever mucked through 6″ of mud or gone out in 20 degree weather to break ice or to shovel snow out of the corral so they can more easily make it to the round hay bale or dumped 110 gallon tanks twice a day in 110 degree heat so their water would be cold and fresh? It would be so much easier to say to hell with it and not go outside, but stay comfy on the sofa. You go regardless when you live on a farm!

        How many cows have you personally raised and cared for? You said, “The birth was shocking for me” and the only reason I can see that happening is lack of experience with large animals and births.
        Until you have lived, worked, and cared for farm animals then all you are really basing your opinion on is one experience at one dairy.

        My mother taught me to try something before I knocked it and maybe you should too.
        I invite you to come here and visit my farm, see my creatures. Then tell me if you wish to lump all cow owners in the same category.

        Moving on, funny you should say “for all the high minded good intentions”, because for all of your ‘high minded good intentions’ what would you wish for people who currently have cows to do with them?

        Open their gates and let them just wander off wherever they so choose?

        Or perhaps we should load them all up and turn them loose in Yellow Stone National park? I
        I’m quite sure the wolves and bears would be absolutely grateful for the abundant supply of easy meat, or better yet maybe we should bring the millions that exist in the USA to your place?

        “Just wondering though… If these folks could place themselves in the place of the mother… Or the baby – Wouldn’t they see that their practices actually are so?”

        To answer this I would say;

        Women do it every day when they go to work and leave their kids at daycare. A mother is a mother and separation from her child is the same be it human or animal. Oh yes, I know we are of the higher variety with a brain that can process information and the knowledge we will be re-united later in the day.

        If you put the calf in the corral and mommy cow is standing on the outside of it and can see, smell, and even lick her calf, they are less stressed.
        It would only take a day or two for them both to realize the separation is only temporary and it prevents the bugger from taking all of the milk so my family can have that sustenance. You underestimate the intelligence of cows.
        Again I ask, how many large livestock animals have you ever reared?
        Ask me the same question…..

        My final say is this, God put animals here for man, that is my belief and no one will ever change my mind, and as long as they are treated well I believe in utilizing their resources and in return I give them food, shelter and a nice place to live their animal life.

        I will give you the courtesy of saying, “I respect your belief and the right to choose to live however you see fit” and I shall do the same.
        Thank you for an interesting debate, I have enjoyed our differing points of view. Oh and my calves don’t cry ;)

      • October 6, 2011 1:36 pm

        Bev, a point of clarification – I wrote this post, not Beaelliott (although we are on the same page!)

        “I’m curious to know, you speak so passionately about this subject, have you ever mucked through 6″ of mud or gone out in 20 degree weather to break ice or to shovel snow out of the corral so they can more easily make it to the round hay bale or dumped 110 gallon tanks twice a day in 110 degree heat so their water would be cold and fresh?”

        Why yes, yes I have! Not 20 degree weather, because the temperature rarely gets that low here. But definitely 110 F (we use automatic waterers so don’t have to worry about water going “hot”). Which begs the question – so what? Like does knowing how to muck out stalls have any bearing on the ethics of stealing the milk of an unrelated species to give to our own?

        “How many cows have you personally raised and cared for? You said, “The birth was shocking for me” and the only reason I can see that happening is lack of experience with large animals and births.”

        I’ve personally cared for enough cows to know about their basic health requirements. As to birthing, of course I don’t have a lot of experience with that (and I’m glad I don’t). My experience to date with farmed animals, while extensive, involves rescued farmed animals in a sanctuary setting. Animals here do not breed, so obviously we don’t have the same experience with birthing as someone who breeds animals for profit. We see the animals at the sanctuary as unique individuals worthy of lifelong care and compassion, a safe haven where they are not exploited for their flesh or breast milk.

  19. October 6, 2011 6:30 am

    Hello again Bev… If your cow refuses to mate and consequently does not produce a calf and does not lactate – What is her fate? When a cow ages and stops producing – What is her fate? What becomes of the males that are not needed to replace the breeding bulls? What happens to the bulls when they get too old to mount/mate? I don’t pretend to know what you do on your farm. But hay, corn, shelter, vet care etc. are very costly. I’m assuming all the animals on your farm must “pay their way” — Or else… Am I correct?

    I still disagree that any cow’s or goat’s or dog’s or monkey’s “milk” is “essential”. I had my “essential” mother’s breast milk over 55 years ago. I should have been weaned after my teeth came in — Not decades later. Unfortunately, the questions of continuing to drink cow’s milk were not a prevelant until recently. I have found that myth of “needing” milk to be one of the biggest lies about nutrition.

    And my mother taught me to use my good judgment. In fact a favorite saying for her was to remind me that “if everyone jumped off a bridge – would you do it too?”. I am “knocking” something without trying it, because my good sense tells me: 1. There’s no way to “use” someone for profit without denying them their choice. And 2. There’s nothing I “need” from the body of another species.

    You were curious to know did I ever muck through the mud to shovel snow/sh!t/etc. Yes indeed I have… Years ago I rescued a few horses headed for the glue-factory… I’m very familiar with rising at 5 a.m. for a full day of hard work – regardless if it was working with nonhumans, soil, lumber, concrete, etc. I’m no stranger to comittment or callouses – Not even to this day.

    My sincere “wish” for all those cows that exist now is that they be allowed to live the rest of their full lives. My wish is that no more cows be brought to this earth to be “products”. My wish is that cows and all other creatures not be considered “property”.

    “Women do it every day…” Yes, but they have a choice to do so. Many also opt out of having children all together.

    My final say is this, All beings exist for their own purpose, that is my belief and no one will ever change my mind. And as long as humans use others for their own ends there will be cruelties inflicted on the innocent. I can satisfy myself and get all the nutrition I need from plants. And I have no need or desire to cut anyone’s life short or manipulate their lives to suit my ends.

    Sorry if I cannot condone or agree with you… But it is the interests of the victims that prevent me from doing so. And since they can’t cry or speak for themselves – Someone has to…

  20. Susan permalink
    November 15, 2011 9:10 am

    Mass production/exploitation of any animal is wrong and alot of it is cruel. But you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I immediately lost interest in your article when I realized I was reading something written by someone ill informed and uneducated about what they were writing about. Working briefly, or visiting one farm teaches you nothing except what is done on THAT farm. . Before I go any further I will tell you that I have lived on a farm my whole life. I have milked animals for 15 years and enjoy they meat they provide as well. First, you cannot humanize animals. You said they weren’t even allowed to choose thier own mate. Sex and choosing a mate is not the same for cows as it is for humans! She will breed with a young or old bull, ANY bull to get “settled” which is the ultimate goal. The taking of the calf is upsetting but only for a short time, if you return the same calf after 24 hours MANY of them don’t recognize it and will reject it. You say they don’t really need to be milked, Do you really think that calf will drink the 10 plus gallons it’s mother will produce?? If it isn’t the farmers milk to take,the farmer that has fed her well enough to calve and come fresh, then whose is it? Do you really propose that we all open our gates and let our cows go all natural? Some will say there will be an overpopulation of cows with no purpose. Actually, they wouldn’t live long enough, esp come wintertime. I totally support trying to get mass production practices abolished, but if you want to drink milk, or eat eggs or cheese go to a small local farmer, not the grocery store. Small farmers like me will leave the calf with the cow and take only the milk that the calf isn’t drinking. Believe me, there is plenty to go around. She is well fed and well housed because a good small farmer knows that he will get the most out of thier animals if they are stress free. This also goes for the chickens on our farm, who free range 3 seasons out of the year and gladly go to thier pen for shelter in the winter. My point being that not all farms that produce milk, meat and eggs are cruel. If you came to my farm you would find chickens clucking to themselves as they poked around here and there. You would see contented cows chewing thier cud and eager to see humans coming. If you get out and really visit several small farms, you would see many small farmers that understand thier animals needs and intincts, instead of trying to place human emotion on them. I myself am fond of my animals and that indeed is a human emotion, but if I try to raise and nurture them based on MY feelings, they wouldn’t be very healthy, happy or reproductive. We just don’t speak the same language. If you want to send the message to the mass producers via thier pockets, but still want to enjoy the fruits of animals, find a local farmer and buy from him. We could use the money and we are everywhere.

    • Bev permalink
      November 16, 2011 1:47 pm

      Dear Susan, bless you for understanding! I fear we are preaching to the choir and these people believe animals should, and I quote…….
      “My sincere “wish” for all those cows that exist now is that they be allowed to live the rest of their full lives. My wish is that no more cows be brought to this earth to be “products”. My wish is that cows and all other creatures not be considered “property”.”….

      In other words, Bea, (I got it right this time MarjiMarji) we are to separate all cows/heifers from all bulls (do not castrate or band them), do not allow them to reproduce and feed them until the day they die, naturally. Millions upon millions of cows that will live 10-15 yrs and then they die of their own accord. Never becoming food for the hungry people in the US or anywhere else, only living til they die, naturally.

      You do realize that by doing so you have just condemned an entire species to become extinct!
      I gather you would rather them to become extinct than to serve the purpose God created them for. Unbelievable!
      Chickens, turkeys, and all animals considered domestic food ‘products’ would have to be separated, kept apart, never allowed to live ‘naturally’ as you seem to be so fond of. How can they live naturally when the males are kept from the females and denied their right to mate? Oh, that’s a necessary evil to save them from a fate worse than extinction, death. Really? In my opinion, that is worse than having them as ‘products’, for at least the way I do it they live a good life and are happy before the end up in my freezer.

      Back to Susan, my mind will never be able to understand theirs and they will never understand ours.. They don’t care how different a small farm versus a huge dairy is, they only care that in the end the animals die for our consumption.
      Better to die and be consumed by vultures and bugs and become extinct than to be on the planet where a human might eat you I suppose ……

      Here is another quote Bea, “If your cow refuses to mate and consequently does not produce a calf and does not lactate – What is her fate? When a cow ages and stops producing – What is her fate? What becomes of the males that are not needed to replace the breeding bulls? What happens to the bulls when they get too old to mount/mate? I don’t pretend to know what you do on your farm. But hay, corn, shelter, vet care etc. are very costly. I’m assuming all the animals on your farm must “pay their way” — Or else… Am I correct?”

      To answer your first question; My cows have never refused to mate and are quite enamored with the bulls attention and advances. We bred a cow last year and she did not settle, she’s still here and was bred this year and did settle, so she will have a calf next year. Not what you thought I’d say huh? :)
      The answer to the rest of the questions: They are sent to the sale, then a feedlot, then go to a supermarket where people consume them.

      Cows hardly require much in the way of veterinarian services as they are a hardy species and tough as nails.
      My cows have not paid their way yet, but eventually the sale of their calves will provide enough money to cover their yearly cost.
      We’ll break even at best and put food in our freezer that we know is not full of hormones, antibiotics, or other chemicals.

      You see ‘taking’ of an animals resources (milk, meat, eggs etc) as the most horrible thing in the world. I see taking the animals life as sad, but I also believe God put these animals on this earth to sustain his people and in doing so my job is to take great care of them. Treated with the utmost respect while they are serving their purpose.
      They suffer no abuse, are well fed, and when their time comes to give their life so my family can live, I pay homage by thanking them and God for providing us with what is essential.

      To Susan (with another quote, this one from you)
      “I totally support trying to get mass production practices abolished, but if you want to drink milk, or eat eggs or cheese go to a small local farmer, not the grocery store”…..

      They don’t WANT to eat or drink any of it. They want all of us to ONLY eat vegetables and almond milk while we allow the creatures to die off, naturally.
      It’s ironic really, death is death be it natural, by disaster, or at the hands of a human.
      In the end they are still dead.
      I find it far more cruel to allow an entire species to go completely extinct than to raise them for food production.

      My final say on this debate is to thank Susan for being one of the normal people and to leave you with this:

      Genesis 1:26
      Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

  21. Susan permalink
    November 17, 2011 8:36 am

    Bev,
    You are right, we will never understand each other’s minds. I am glad there are other likeminded people out there. To the others who have voiced thier opinions, if you don’t want to eat animals or thier by products, by all means don’t. We all have choices and I respect yours, but you have to know, you cannot convince the farmer of your feelings trying to use “facts” that he knows are just incorrect. I would advise you to REALLY REALLY learn about what you are talking about, use more than one dairy farm as a source. Visit several, large and small. Learn about the cows natural instincts and diet. learn about common illnesses. learn about milk and meat types.
    I am going out to milk now, I’m late and I can hear the cows protesting. Yes, they look forward to the milking ritual. I am going to leave you with a thought that i have had ever since i read Bev’s post….How do you milk an almond?? Bev, happy farming:)

    • November 20, 2011 1:46 pm

      The reason I don’t respect your “choice” is that your choice requires victims. These are human-bred species of cows – Nothing “God” or nature ever made! Neither would create beings that couldn’t survive on their own. In “domesticating” them – you’ve plotted out their eternal exploitation and/or death sentence – All in the name of greed.

      I re-affirm the truth that there is no essential “need” for using these animals – We can thrive on a plant based diet. And though I hesitate in quoting a deity’s words via man’s interpretation here you go:
      King James Bible Genesis 1:29 (Cambridge Ed.)
      And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

      My final thought on the idea of an adult human not being weaned is that it is an abomination to everything that’s “natural”. Almond milk has twice the calcium as cow’s milk – a third the fat and it tastes delicious! http://almondbreeze.com/ OR 5 minutes work at a blender yields just as tasty a beverage… And zero amount of “somatic cells”. That alone is convincing reason enough not to consider cow’s milk as “food”. Good day – ;)

      • Susan permalink
        November 20, 2011 2:26 pm

        Provoked,

        In response to your comments about animals being man made, “nothing that god produced”…don’t you do the same with your plants? If you have a plant that is naturally resistent to disease isn’t that the seed you would choose to use? “Selective Breeding” is the same for plants as it is animals. I have owned and operated a commercial greenhouse for many years as well as farming. Better genes make a better product, plant or animal. Also, almond milk is not delicious. It’s awful! It tastes like lightly flavored water. I have also tried the organic milk…it tastes nothing like milk fresh from the cow/goat. Makes you wonder what thier doing to that milk as well…

    • December 15, 2011 9:22 am

      This inrtodcues a pleasingly rational point of view.

  22. Susan permalink
    November 20, 2011 2:28 pm

    Oh, forgot. The almonds in your milk? Genetically altered:)

    • November 20, 2011 3:42 pm

      Hi Susan – I used to think it was fine to genetically manipulate vegetables… Till recently when nearly every tomato I’ve cut open had seeds already sprouting in them. I’m 57 years old and seen lots of love apples in my time – Something strange is going on with them lately – And they don’t taste like a tomato at all any more.

      But there’s a world of difference between altering and manipulating plants than doing such with sentient beings. Plants don’t have interests… Animals do. What happens to them matters to them. They can suffer. This changes everything in the ethical way we do or don’t treat them.

      Finally, had you clicked on the link I provided you’d learn for yourself that Almond Breeze milk DOES NOT contain GMO nuts. And you’re one of the rare, rare folks I’ve met that doesn’t like almond milk. In my neighborhood the shelves have tripled in the last year or so… Still, they run out of my favorite brand often… From the article Move Over Cow “It is outpacing the growth of every other non-dairy milk alternative we sell,” says spokeswoman Jo Natale. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703791904576075790255426176.html I seriously believe anyone with financial sense ought to either be investing in these markets or producing the (raw) products themselves. The demand for cow’s milk alternatives is destined to expand. ;)

      • January 30, 2012 5:43 pm

        Speaking of alternatives to cow’s milk that is NOT ours to take:
        “Consumers are going nuts for almond milk, as it became the fastest growing non-dairy milk alternative in 2011 at the expense of soy milk.

        According to the latest figures from Packaged Facts, sales of almond milk increased 79 percent in the US last year, while sales of soy milk — though still the most popular non-dairy milk alternative — fell 15 percent between 2008 and 2010, reported online trade publication FoodNavigator.com last week.

        Overall, last year 11 percent of adults were consumers of soy milk, while 9 percent consumed almond milk. Rice milk came third in popularity.

        Almond milk is a creamy dairy alternative made from ground almonds and contains no cholesterol or lactose. Commercial brands are also fortified with added vitamins and minerals to mimic the nutritional value of dairy milk.

        Almond milk also contains no unsaturated fat and is high in protein, omega fatty acids, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc, as well as antioxidants.

        An 8-ounce serving of Silk Pure Almond, for example, is fortified with 450mg of calcium, which provides 50 percent more calcium than a glass of dairy milk.

        The leading brand saw a whopping 500 percent increase in sales in 2010 and a 69 percent spike in sales in 2011.

        Sales of Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze, meanwhile, increased 240 percent in 2010 and 59 percent in 2011.

        While consumption of non-dairy milk has gone up, stats at the US Department of Agriculture show that sales of cow’s milk have fallen steadily in recent years: average per capita consumption of cow’s milk fell from 24.3 gallons per person in 1994 to 20.8 gallons per person in 2008, points out the Packaged Facts report.
        http://www.agweb.com/article/almond_milk_was_fastest_growing_non-dairy_milk_in_2011_LN/

        Thought this post could use a bit of good news and a reality check all at once. ;)

  23. Hafsa permalink
    August 8, 2012 1:27 pm

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    Its utterly disgusting and i (tea lover) couldn’t have my tea today thinking what have i been drinking all my life :(. it made me upset because I would never put any living being in agony.

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Trackbacks

  1. Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 20: Animal Families » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info
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