By Dr. Mercola
For all of us who love, respect and share our lives with animals, it is devastating to see this appalling abuse of dairy farm animals.
This video was produced by the non-profit organization Animals' Angels, an internationally active non-profit organization based in Germany, whose mission is to end the abuse of livestock animals and improve the conditions at auctions.
Unfortunately, this video is not one of a kind.
Many other disturbing videos can be found online, documenting animal cruelty by the food industry and others valuing profit above all else.
Why suggest watching such horrible images?
The videos about cruelty are, unfortunately, a necessary evil as they inform concerned citizens about what is endured by animals entrusted to our care.
Without seeing it, many would simply be unable to believe it exists.
And seeing it has a far more visceral impact and is harder to ignore than reading about it.
Awareness is always the first step toward positive change, and GREAT change is needed to improve the lives of these farm animals.
The main points the film makes are quoted and expanded upon below.
The Disturbing Truth about Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)
Most milk no longer comes from cows happily grazing in lush, green fields in the open air, as their advertisements commonly suggest. Most conventional milk comes from cows raised in intensive production systems, also known as confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). According to Vegan Outreach, farms with fewer than 200 cows are in sharp decline, while the number of very large CAFOs (2,000-plus cows) more than doubled between the years 2000 and 2006. The largest operations have more than 15,000 cows.
About half of the milk sold in the U.S. comes from just four percent of the farms, which are owned by a handful of large corporations.
"Today, most dairy cows are confined to a barren, dry lot, which often holds several thousand animals."
Most of these large CAFOs have very high animal densities and confine their cows inside barns or in feedlots. Some cows are housed indoors year-round. When lactating, most of the cows are kept tied up in stalls. Cows confined in stalls show signs of stress from social isolation and the inability to lie down, as well as increased susceptibility to a number of diseases. Only USDA-certified organic farms are required to provide some access to pasture for grazing. In 2008, fewer than three percent of U.S. dairy cows were managed on organic farms.
Dairy Cows are Forced into Continuous Birthing and Lactation
As with other mammals, in order to produce milk, a cow must have recently given birth. Dairy cows are forced to start giving birth at about two years of age, then reinseminated about 60 days after every birthing to maintain a yearly schedulei .
"To maintain high milk production, dairy operators want the cows to give birth as often as possible. Reproduction is often manipulated with artificial insemination to ensure the cow will calve and reach peak milk production quickly."
When lactating, their udders are hooked up to electronic milking machines several times a day, which sometimes inflict electrical shocks, painful lesions, and infections. When producing milk for her calf, a cow will naturally produce about 16 pounds of milk per day. But through genetic manipulation, antibiotics, and hormones such as bovine growth hormone (rBGH), dairy cows are forced to produce 50 pounds of milk per day. RBGH also greatly increases the cow's risk for mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder.
Why Some Milk MUST be Pasteurized
"Pasteurized dairy is produced in the filthiest conditions imaginable. Blood, pus, and dangerous pathogens routinely end up in pasteurized milk."
CAFO animals are given large quantities of antibiotics, vaccines, vitamins, and other potentially toxic drugs to prevent the diseases that would normally overtake them as a result of living in such filthy, overcrowded conditions. Those chemicals get passed along to you in the milk you consume. In fact, using a highly sensitive test, scientists have detected as man as 20 painkillers, antibiotics and growth hormones in samples of cow's milk.
Newborn Calves are Ripped Away from their Mothers
"Although a cow's natural life expectancy is between 20 and 25 years, most dairy cows are slaughtered between the ages of four and six."
Cows can naturally live for 20 to 25 years, but on industrial dairy farms they're usually killed at about five years of age—that is, if they even live that long. Many dairy cows die by age three or four, exhausted by constant lactation and frequent disease. In some countries where cows are revered, such as India and Nepal, cows are commonly kept as pets. Cows are very social animals, being sturdy yet gentle, and make wonderful pets for families with children.ii Miniature cows are even beginning to be bred as pets in the United States.
"After birthing, the calves are often immediately taken away from their mothers. While the female calves remain on the farm to replace other "spent" daily cows, the male calves, often called the "unwanted by-product" of the dairy industry, are usually shipped to auction and sold to veal operations."
The female calves are commonly mutilated by tail docking, dehorning, and the removal of "extra teats." Most female calves are fed colostrum until they are weaned at eight weeks, and then fed a milk replacer or "waste milk" that is unfit to be sold for human consumption. Each year, hundreds of thousands of female calves die between 48 hours and eight weeks of age, mostly due to diarrhea (calf scours) and other digestive problems.
The Torture of Veal Calves
"Many of the bull calves, with their umbilical cords still attached and unable to stand by themselves, are often too weak to survive and die at the auction."
Many consumers don't realize that veal is a direct by-product of the dairy industry. Newborn bull calves are taken away from their mothers and shipped off to veal producers for a short life of torture. Some bull calves are killed within a few days of their birth, but many are harvested for veal. These veal calves are typically kept immobilized in tiny crates so that their flesh stays tender, until they are slaughtered at 16 to 20 weeks of age. Their confinement is so extreme that they cannot even turn around or lie down comfortably. This abuse begins as young as one day old.
In order to make their flesh white, the veal calves are fed a low iron, nutritionally deficient liquid diet that makes them ill; they frequently develop anemia, diarrhea, and pneumonia.iii According to John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution and several other booksiv :
"The veal calf would actually have more space if, instead of chaining him in such a stall, you stuffed him into the trunk of a subcompact car and kept him there for his entire life."
Sickly Animals are Treated Like Piles of Waste
The term "downer" refers to an animal that is too injured, weak, or sick to stand and walk. The leading causes are complications from calving and injuries from slipping and falling, most often occurring within one day of giving birth. The exact number of downer cattle on American farms or feedlots is estimated to be 500,000 animals per year. Most are dairy cows. You can see on the video how these poor animals are mistreated, being pushed around by tractors and forklifts as if they were piles of waste.
"When they reach auction, many dairy cows will be weakened and emaciated. Because of their poor state of health, these animals have a high risk of becoming non-ambulatory."
Another major factor causing these animals to become ill is their transport to auction. Animals are transported thousands of miles over land and sea, and subjected to enormous stress. Frequently these transports do not meet legal requirements. The conditions of animal transport are such a huge problem that Animals' Angels has a division specifically committed to eliminating long-distance transports.v
Unnatural Diets Lead to Painful Udder and Hoof Infections
The natural diet for a cow is grass, but a grass diet doesn't result in an extraordinarily high milk yield. Therefore, conventional dairy farms put their cows on high grain diets (mostly corn), and diets that are also high in cheap protein, such as genetically engineered soy and animal by-products. These foods are hard for cows to digest and cause health problems. These unnatural diets, combined with filthy and overcrowded living conditions, create an environment in which metabolic disorders and infections are commonplace. Millions of cows are suffering mercilessly and needlessly at the hands of big agribusinesses that fancy themselves as "dairy farmers."
"By the time they arrive at the auction to be sold to a meat buyer, 33 percent of dairy cows will have developed mastitis, a very painful udder infection. Many cows will be limping and in pain due to laminitis, an inflammation of the hoof."
Raw Milk may be the Solution for You AND the Cows
If you want to continue consuming milk and milk products, I suggest you get them in the raw from organic dairy farmers who are set up specifically to produce high-quality, clean, nutritious raw dairy products. You can find milk, cheese, and other dairy products in raw form, although it may take a little searching. High-quality raw milk has an abundance of nutritional elements, including:
- Valuable enzymes (which are destroyed by pasteurization)
- Natural butterfat helps your body to absorb and utilize vitamins and minerals (also destroyed by pasteurization)
- Healthy unoxidized cholesterol
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and may help reduce body fat
- Omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats in a better ratio than conventional milk
ALL Raw Milk is Not Safe—You Must Know What to Look for
There's a vast difference in quality between the milk of organically raised, grass-fed "happy cows," and that from conventionally raised, confined, grain-fed cows.
Raw, unpasteurized milk from CAFOs would be dangerous to consume.
Conventional dairy farms are not typically set up to produce milk that is safe and pure enough to be consumed raw. And really, the very idea of producing mass quantities of milk from huge numbers of cows confined to one area is contrary to the very nature of "healthy" milk. When buying raw milk, it's important to make sure you're buying milk that's been produced with the intention of being consumed raw—and not just unpasteurized milk from conventional dairy operations.
It would cost large industrial dairies an enormous amount of money to clean up their operations enough to turn out milk that would be SAFE to drink raw, since it's often loaded with blood, pus, hormones, dangerous pathogens and other sludge that you wouldn't want to ingest under any circumstances.
Realize that when you consume conventional pasteurized supermarket milk, you are likely drinking this sludge—it's just "cooked sludge."
Voting with your wallet or pocketbook is the best way to send a message to the factory farm industry that there is a market for ethically raised livestock. By purchasing milk from dairy farmers who are doing things right, you are showing kindness to cows everywhere, decreasing their chances of suffering tragic and miserable lives, one gallon at a time. If you object to factory farming practices and the mistreatment of animals, and you are still buying conventional dairy products, then your actions are not aligned with your beliefs. If you had a difficult time watching this video but you continue to buy these products, then it may be time to recommit or reevaluate your values.
Do You Want Easy Access to Raw Milk?
Government, public health, and dairy industry officials want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw milk, citing safety concerns. But small dairy farmers, organic consumers' advocates and raw milk drinkers all agree that safety isn't the real issue—it's control of the dairy market. By joining the fight to make access to healthy raw milk a right for all Americans, you're not only standing up the animals, you're protecting your freedom of choice with respect to your food supply.
Presidential candidate Ron Paul has joined the battle to protect your rights to raw milk by introducing House Bill HR 1830vi , which essentially authorizes the production and transport of raw milk products for direct human consumption. On May 13, 2011, this bill was sent to the House Subcommittee on Health. I cannot urge you strongly enough to support HR 1830, and inform everyone you know.
Total Video Length: 0:20:39
Download Interview Transcript
Additionally, the Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund has created a petition for HR 1830. If you care about this issue, please take a moment to sign this petition right now!
Additional Raw Milk Resources
The following is a list of resources that can help you become better informed:
- The Raw Milk Institute contains excellent information about raw milk.
- Organizations such as the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund are working toward true freedom of choice for American consumers, and I urge you to get involved in their causes.
- Listen to my interview with Mark McAfee, the founder of Organic Pastures, which is one of the largest raw milk producers in the United States.
- Listen to my interview with health and business journalist David E. Gumpert.Consider reading his book,The Raw Milk Revolution, as well as watching his video about the history of pasteurization and its exaggerated health benefits.
- Consider watching Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms, a documentary by Kristin Canty that may just make your blood boil.