Dairy Farming is a very large industry that used to have a lot of profit. But now it is facing a lot of problems including less demand, people moving to plant-based milk i.e almond, coconut, etc, fodder shortage, and getting bullied by animal welfare scientists. Just like every other profession Dairy farming also have some good practices as well as some really bad ones. A lot of anti-dairy movements are pressurizing Dairy Farmers to stop their business. Some say this is cruel to the cows and cow’s milk is not healthy while other points out the carbon emission from their manure and how it affects our environment. Let’s break down all these in this article.
Is it cruel to keep a cow for milk?
Humans have been keeping cows for milk and meat forever and now depend on them a lot but on the other hand, a cow also depends on humans to live a life. If Dairy Farmers are not there to milk the cow then the cow will eventually die because cows nowadays can produce up to a gallon of milk a day and its calf can only drink about 5-6 liters a day and the remaining will stay in the udder and will cause mastitis, cow’s udder could explode and eventually cow will die. So now ending the Dairy Farming industry will cause more harm to cows than it will cause to humans so naturally, it’s not possible because cows need humans to survive. What we could do is change some practices so that cows could have a better, more comfortable, and joyful life which I will discuss later on.
Do Cows Cry when their Calf is taken away?
Of course, they do. We can’t ask cows how they’re feeling but research has shown that cows don’t just experience stress and contentment but can experience complex emotions like excitement, love, sadness, and fear. They have great memories and are very good at remembering and recognizing faces even after long periods of time.
Whenever a cow gives birth, its newborn is taken away. Female calves are kept in individual pens and their horn buds are destroyed after a few weeks but male calves are not that lucky, they are sent to cattle ranches where they are slaughtered at a very young age. Some reports have suggested that a few dairy farmers just kill the male calves because they are not economical. This is a really bad thing to do and should be stopped asap. Female calves are then kept their whole life on concrete floors where they are forced to repeatedly impregnated by artificial insemination and produce more and more milk then after 5-6 years, these cows are slaughtered for meat because their milk starts declining and not one cow lives its whole life which is around 20 years.
These are all the practices that need to be changed. Dairy farmers should be forced to also keep male calves and give them the same diet they are giving to female calves and after maturity, they can sell them. Artificial insemination and natural mating should be balanced so that cows can have a full life experience. Cows should have a retirement date and after that should be kept for a year or two so that they can have a stress-free life.
To answer the question, it is rather compulsory to take away the calf after calving due to a couple of reasons. Firstly it reduces the disease transmission to the calf and secondly, when its mother is hungry she often forgets about her offspring and starts eating and there are many other cows that can hurt the little calf. It could die after coming under someone’s hoof. In short, it is dangerous to keep the baby with the mother. What we could do is keep it close to its mother so that the mother can see it whenever she wants.
Is Milk Bad for You?
Well in short if you have a balanced diet then Milk is really good for you but as you know excess of everything is bad for your health. Some people are lactose intolerant, which means they can’t digest milk or dairy products. So milk is not for everyone but it is a good choice for many people due to its nutritional profile. Milk is a really good source of vitamins and minerals. Milk provides B12, Vitamin D, and potassium which are lacking in many diets. Milk is an excellent source of magnesium, zinc, B1, and vitamin A. Milk is a rich source of protein which is necessary for many vital body functions like growth and development. Milk is considered a “Complete Protein” which means it contains all nine essential amino acids which are necessary for your body to function at an optimal level. Due to calcium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, and vitamin K milk has been long associated with healthy bones.
There are also some disadvantages of cow milk mainly heart disease. But the real reason behind heart disease is not drinking milk itself but it’s other dairy products like cheese. Let’s face it everything in this world has its advantages and disadvantages. If you exceed a certain amount then you will surely face the consequences. It’s up to you to decide whether Milk is Good or Bad for you but you can’t decide for every human being on this planet.
Is Dairy Farming dangerous for the Environment?
Dairy cows and their manure produces methane-a gas which is 3 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Cows manure can degrade local water resources. Feed production and new construction of Dairy Farms lead to the loss of forests and wetlands. Dairy farming is responsible for about 2.2% of global GHC emissions. One glass of Milk can produce up to 0.8kg of CO2-equivalents.
Feed additives or supplements can reduce methane emissions from livestock. Carbohydrate-rich diets with high intake produce less methane. Compositing-biological decomposition of organic matter, under controlled conditions, into soil conditioner manure really helps in decreasing methane emissions from manure. Also, include additives in manure to suppress unwanted biological activity.
Dairy farming is a centuries-old industry and it is not going away any time soon so we should make sure that Dairy Farmers change some of their practices for the betterment of their cows and the environment. There should be regulations by the government or relative authority to make sure that a Dairy Farm is following all the protocols that are required for a sustainable future.