In a factory farm, this little baby will be taken away from his mother immediately and put into a crate where he can't move much so that he fattens up a bit before being slaughtered. The sounds of distress from mother and child are too much for most humane people to bear.
In a factory farm, this little baby will be taken away from his mother immediately and put into a crate where he can’t move much so that he fattens up a bit before being slaughtered. The sounds of distress from mother and child are too much for most humane people to bear.


The dairy industry is the subject of many attacks by vegans, in fact it is called the “rape and murder” industry. This is because females are impregnated using artificial insemination and the babies are taken from their mothers after birth so that the milk goes to people. However, ethical dairy farming is much more animal friendly and everyone should switch if they are not vegan.

Below is an excerpt taken from the Society for the Advancement of Animal Wellbeing website:

In modern times, to obtain high yields of milk at low cost and optimal efficiency, the cow has been turned into a piece of machinery, whose sole purpose in life is to produce milk.

Let’s look now at the dairy industry’s standard for milk production, bearing in mind that this is a factual account of the agricultural process and not a presentation of isolated incidents.

To produce milk a female cow must be made pregnant so as to lactate to feed her offspring. Thus at the tender age of 15 months female dairy cows are forced into pregnancy through artificial insemination. This process is extremely painful for the animals, as inexperienced farm workers often restrain the animals in a “rape rack” as it is known in the industry and use a metal rod to forcefully inseminate them.

An even more painful method of inducing pregnancy that has become increasingly popular is embryo implantation, in which embryos are grown in one cow and physically implanted in another.

A cow’s gestation period is nine months, the same as that of humans. After a calf is born, if it is female, she is raised as a dairy cow; if it is male he may be slaughtered on site with a sledgehammer and then its blood is drained or it is taken away to be turned into veal. The separation of mother and calf is extremely distressing to both; cries are often heard as mother and child call after one another.

Milk, anyone?

The lactating mother cow is then chained by its neck and kept in a confined shed that allows it virtually no movement. There is no grazing on green grass, but instead these natural herbivores are fed high-protein pellet mixtures containing material from other dead animals including cows. So not only are dairy cows turned into carnivores but cannibals as well. This roughage-free and pathogen-filled diet often causes cows to become malnourished and can cause brain-rotting diseases such as mad-cow disease or BSE.

Young dairy cows then have vacuum machines attached to their teats or udders, and their milk is painfully sucked out. Dairy cows are milked 365 days a year, and in order to get Holstein dairy cows to lactate year round they are continually kept pregnant, meaning that two to three months after giving birth they are painfully impregnated again and this process continues for the rest of their short lives.

To boost production further, the cows are also injected with bovine growth hormone, which could cause birth defects and even various cancers in humans. Current methods mean that Holsteins produce ten times as much milk as they would normally, or approximately 100 pounds per day. This inappropriately high level of milk production and the methods of obtaining it leave the animals extremely sick and prone to both bacterial and viral infections.

Other conditions that these poor creatures often suffer from are milk fever caused by a lack of calcium, which also leads to osteoporosis, meaning that the cows often suffer from broken bones just from walking or slipping. The most common affliction affecting 50% of all dairy herds is chronic mastitis, a painful, sore infection of the udder. However, the cows are still milked, causing blood and pus from their infections to end up in the milk consumed by humans.

Up to 750-million pus cells per liter have been measured in milk products. To try to reduce this condition, the cows are pumped full of antibiotics. Also, the udders of dairy cows get so disproportionately large that their hind legs are permanently spread, causing lameness. The animals are continuously prodded with electrical rods in order to get them to move back to urinate and excrete in gutters.

Thus dairy cows’ living conditions are extremely unhygienic and cause foot rot and other diseases. The natural life span of a dairy cow is 25 years under normal conditions but under current factory-farming methods this span is reduced to three to five years. So what happens when a dairy cow is no longer useful? The answer is, it is turned into ground beef for burgers and other such reconstituted meat products.

As you can see, the modern dairy industry is animal cruelty which is allowed because it is very profitable and people LOVE milk and cheese, ice cream, cappuccinos, etc. But the dairy industry doesn’t have to be cruel and the dairy farmers listed on are carefully selected and represent the most ethical farming practices possible.

Firstly, artificial insemination is not used. Reproduction takes place the way Nature intended. All the animals are allowed to graze freely in grassy pastures in sunlight and shade and fresh air. Nothing like the filthy pens (or sterile concrete uncomfortable cubicles) that factory farmed dairy cows have to endure.

The calves are not immediately separated on birth but are allowed to suckle from their mothers. After a few months they are weaned using temporary nose rings that DO NOT require the nose to be pierced. More information supplied by the Spirited Rose Homestead Dairy:

  • First, non-milking animals have a natural plug in each teat. Sucking softens the tissue and causes the teat to unplug, allowing in potentially pathogenic bacteria.
  • Second, sucking on another heifer’s teats or udder area (also referred to as “udder promise”) can lead to tissue damage or mastitis.
    • Tissue damage is often not noticeable, until the heifer calves and becomes a cow. Severe tissue damage creates a “blind quarter” – which is a quarter that creates no milk ever. It usually looks much smaller, because it does not stretch out with milk secreting tissue (hence the name “blind”). Less severe damage may result in odd lumps, reduced production, etc.
    • Mastitis will often tend to be noticeable (redness, heat, swelling, hardness) and can occur to bred or unbred, milking or dry animals. If noticed in a non-milking animal, mastitis should still be properly treated and milked out to flush out the infected material.

So the rings are used to either wean the calves or to prevent damage to the other cows who are perhaps ill, too young, old or in an otherwise non-milking state. The ring does not hurt the calf but makes it uncomfortable for the cow being suckled so the cow will move away from the calf.

This may not be perfect for most vegans, but it is much much better than the usual way of dairy farming. And the preferred supplier for the JHB region, Moira Hampson Dairy, only charges R10 per litre so the price is not much higher than the cruelly farmed milk found in the shops. To buy ethically produced dairy products visit this link:

Lara Whybrow

Lara Whybrow

Executive Director at Ethical Suppliers (Pty) Ltd
Lara Whybrow is the founder and website developer/content writer at Ethical Suppliers. She loves growing all manner of things, particularly rare plants or edibles and used to keep a small flock of free range chickens. She is passionate about getting more people to grow organic food for themselves and selling the excess or giving it to those less fortunate.
Lara Whybrow
Posted on: December 8, 2015, by : Lara Whybrow

2 thoughts on “

  1. Hi Lara.
    Not all dairies are cruel. We milk 150 cows wich are freely on pastures all year round. we have bulls in the herd wich father the calves. We never chail the cows. They come into the milking parlor out of oun choice because it is pleasant for them and they get a treat to eat while being milked. The calves is taken away from the cow but every calf gets the milk of its own mother. They are carefully taken care of and receive much love and tender care from us. Ttey are happy calves and are also in the sunlight to play with each other. Our motto is to stay as true to nature as possible. Our cows and calves are veru healthy and almost never get sick. We do not have a mastitis problem at all.

    1. Hi Deidre,

      Thanks for your reply. That is great news, except for the part about the calves being separated from the mothers. Isn’t that traumatic for the calves and their mothers? Which dairy farm are you referring to?

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