With Australia recently ‘celebrating’ International Dairy week, the largest international dairy cattle sale and show in the southern hemisphere, many could be forgiven for thinking the dairy industry a benign and modest trade, simply responsible for passing on the ‘product’ from its ever-obliging and happy cows.
Nothing could be further from the truth. And so we launch our campaign action of the month, highlighting the terrible injustice facing Australia’s young and vulnerable ‘bobby’ calves.
‘Bobby’ calves are the by-product of the dairy industry – an inconvenient truth behind just what it means to supply the 1,190,000 tonne of dairy products Australian consumers demand yearly* (Based on 2010-2011 figures – source Agricultural commodity statistics 2011 (ABARES))
Many people do not realise that a cow does not produce milk simply by virtue of being a cow. Just like a human, in order to produce milk a cow must become pregnant. Again, just like us humans, upon giving birth, a cow will form a strong maternal bond with her baby calf and will have a desire to nourish it with food and offer protection.
However, it is this very aspect of bovine intelligence and instinct which directly conflicts with the chief intent of the dairy industry, which is to harvest a cow’s milk for human consumption. And so, to alleviate this conflict, the maternal bond is broken and each calf is taken away from his or her mother as soon as possible after birth.
Their form and growth characteristics make these calves of no value to the beef industry and so they are seen as a ‘low value by product of the dairy industry’. In fact, their value is deemed to be so low that they were termed ‘Bobby calves’, equivalent to the economic value of a single ‘bob’.
And so, for male calves and the many of females (those not required to become herd replacement animals), in fact for hundreds of thousands of hapless bobby calves in Australia each year, this means a drastically shortened life, as they can be legally sent to slaughter from just four days of age.* (For the year 2011 – 692,000 were killed, source Australian Bureau of Statistics)
Kindness for calves in action:
- Ditch dairy, try some of the delicious and nutritious non-dairy products ranging from milks, cheese and ice-creams.
- Spread kindness not butter. Host a work place kindness day and share your new found non-dairy treats with friends, co-workers and fellow students. Bring along some dairy (and cruelty) free biscuits and cakes and encourage people to try a soy latte!
- Sponsor a rescued bobby calf.