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The factory farming of dairy cows

Mother cow refusing to leave her dead calf
Mother cow refusing to leave her dead calf
Farm Sanctuary

Over 9 million dairy cows make up the U.S. herd.

In Florida, dairy farming is one of the biggest animal industries, second only to the farming of cattle for beef.

Thanks to factory farms, the number of dairy farms has decreased, but herd size has increased. Most dairy farms have 500-1000 cows, while huge operations can have over 3000.

Cows confined on factory farms are:

  • dehorned (mutilated), without anesthesia
  • artificially inseminated by the age of 2
  • kept almost continually pregnant
  • selectively bred for abnormally high milk production - over 20,000 lbs of milk a year, per cow (double 1967, 47% more than 1987)
  • suffering severe mastitis from udders overfilled with milk
  • milked 2-3 times per day
  • lame from standing on concrete flooring
  • not provided with adequate nutrition
  • forced to give up their babies soon after birth, so they don’t drink any of the milk destined for our refrigerators.
  • shot at birth or sold to the veal industry if male

Their lives are typically over before the age of 5 (natural lifespan is around 25 years), “spent” from producing more milk then their bodies can handle. Once their usefulness is over, they are sent for slaughter. They may also be killed if they have trouble getting pregnant or are cutting into profits due to lameness or chronic mastitis.

Cruel handling suffered during transport and slaughter, raises a host of animal welfare concerns.

If you are interested in learning about the nature of cows, it would be worth your while to pick up a copy of The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young. You will quickly learn that cows should be treated as more than just milk producing machines.

For more information about mega dairies and factory farming of dairy cows, here are some resources you may find interesting.

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  • veganron 4 years ago

    Excellent article which clearly and succinctly outlines the horrific nature of the abuse humans perpetrate on feeling, thinking, intelligent beings. Non-human animals should not be considered ours to do with as we please. They exist for their own purposes and for us to consider them property, like an inanimate object, is unconscionable.

  • Profile picture of Hindy Pearson
    Hindy Pearson 4 years ago

    Veganron, thanks for your comment, and compliment. In the EU, animals are considered sentient beings, while here they are considered property, with no more legal protection then the t shirt on your back. The Animal Welfare Act is as useless as the paper it was written on. Having worked in farm animal welfare in the UK, I see how many lessons we can learn in how to spread the message in this country. Organisations need to get out and have a presence on the streets; media should be showing documentaries, including footage, about the horrors of factory farming and the suffering of animals and politicians need to be lobbied relentlessly. I doubt most people connect the animal in the field (that they probably never see!) to the hamburger on their plate.

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