The Life of a Factory Farm Dairy Cow
Today’s 9-million factory farm dairy cows suffer immeasurably their entire lives. Cows are ruminant animals, which means they need to graze on grass to sustain their health and maintain their natural behavior. However, cows on factory farms are given a genetically-manipulated, technology-enhanced unnatural diet that forces them to produce excessively high levels of milk for U.S. consumers today. This is painful for them and causes great physical suffering and disease, and forces their bodies to perform unnaturally due to the constant pressure they are put under to produce inordinate quantities of milk. The dairy industry continues to subject cows to extremely inhumane and abusive practices in the name of increasing corporate production goals and profits.
The life of a factory farm dairy cow today:
- Cows today are genetically manipulated to produce up to 100 pounds of milk per day, 10 times their natural production. Cows are bred to be so large today that they can no longer carry their own weight, have difficulty walking, fall down, and are picked up in tractors and slaughtered because they cannot walk.
- Cows are forced to be continually pregnant with no time to recover between calving.
- Cows are artificially impregnated while they are still lactating from their previous birth to force their milk production during the next seven months of their 9-month pregnancy.
- Cows are forced to have a calf every year and they are forced to have their first calf two years earlier than is natural, while their bodies are still not fully developed or mature enough to have a calf, which weakens their bodies for life.
- Newborn calves are taken away from their mothers immediately after birth and are either slaughtered or raised as veal calves. Removing a newborn calf from their mother causes deep distress and suffering for weeks for both mother and calf.
- Cows, due to forced reproduction at unnatural rates, suffer from mastitis, a painful bacterial infection of their udders; they also suffer from Bovine Leukemia Virus, Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus, and Johne’s disease, which are often ignored and unseen on factory farms causing even greater pain and suffering.
- Cows get “Milk Fever” due to intensive milk production from bodies that are calcium depleted.
- Cows are fed an unnatural, technologically-manipulated diet that makes them produce an excessive, unnatural amount of milk daily. This diet causes metabolic disorders; laminitis which causes lameness; cancer, tumors and ketosis.
- Cows are given Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), a synthetic hormone, to get cows to produce even greater quantities of milk – BGH also increases birth defects in calves.
- Cows finally end up in the slaughterhouse after 3-4 years of intensive milk production and calving. Their bodies are so depleted, exhausted, and physically wreaked that many cannot walk or even stand up in the end – remember the “Downed Cow” video? They are picked up by bulldozers and transported to slaughter. Cows in transport are given no food, water, support or comfort.
- Slaughter is done by roping them up by the back legs, where they are bled to death — many still conscious, kicking, fighting, and struggling upside down due to their failed “stunning,” which is common.
Calves are immediately removed from their mothers at birth:
- Females calves replace the older cows that are physically spent in 3-4 years of intensive milk production.
- Male calves are sent to veal farms where they live in extreme confinement. Here is more about veal calves.
Actions you can take:
- Stop buying and eating dairy products, or reduce your dairy consumption to once a week, once every two weeks or once a month, and continue reducing your dairy consumption. Avoid buying Bovine-Growth Hormone (BGH) induced cows milk (see the label, no BGH).
- If you do buy dairy, buy only 100% grass-fed, free-range dairy from a small local dairy farmer.
- Instead of dairy milk, consider buying plant-based milks including nut, grain and seed milks; and non-dairy alternative or substitute cheese, butter and ice cream products.
- Learn more about factory farms and industrial animal agriculture and why it’s such a significant threat to animal welfare, the environment, natural ecosystems, habitats and wildlife, and human health.
- When you dine out, ask local restaurants to buy dairy only from small local farms where dairy cows are free-range, grass-fed, and humanely raised and treated.
- Call your politicians and ask them to get involved and support animal welfare laws, and keep track of their voting record. Here’s some ideas
- Spread the word! Tell others about factory farming. Share on social media and help get the word out!