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Have you ever thought about how weird the dairy business is?

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  • Have you ever thought about how weird the dairy business is?

    I was reading an ad for a holstein steer. It was raised on goat's milk, and is fed "quality" feed. This animal will never know what its like to eat the food it was supposed to eat. Taken away from its mother since it was only created by artificial insemination so that the mother would produce milk. Fed the milk of another creature because it wasn't valuable enough to warrant its own species milk. Fed manufactured food instead of grass. So its stuck in a calf hutch (which looks like a small septic tank and smells like one too), raised only as long as necesary, and then sold for $1.50/lb hanging. I don't think I want to buy that little calf for food--although if I had room, I'd buy the poor thing as a pet and feed it hay and unicorn poop until it were old enough to actually be healthy and have lived like an actual cow.

    What a bizarre and miserable life.

  • #2
    Originally posted by BethanyK View Post
    if I had room, I'd buy the poor thing as a pet and feed it hay and unicorn poop
    jeez you just almost made me snort my tea out through my nose.

    ...but yeah the rest of that is horrible.
    carl's cave

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    • #3
      Probably applies to all animals raised for feed, even those grazing on their actual diets, end of the day they're still just waiting for me to eat them. I'm comfortable with that.
      I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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      • #4
        I don't think so iniQuity. I think those animals that are bred for meat have a little better life overall than the throw-aways from the dairy industry. At least the ones I've seen around here, where they are pastured until market time, then shipped to hellish feedlots for finishing. I don't know how it is all over the country though. They still have pretty "normal" lives of being left with their mothers until weaning.

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        • #5
          I must have missed your point then. I thought you were discussing their final end (death to feed others, or become products, etc) when in fact you’re more talking about quality of life up until that point. In that case, I agree that factory farmed animals must life worse lives than those on prairies and such.
          I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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          • #6
            in the local raw dairy, the calves are kept in a smaller pen/pasture, fed a combination of goats milk and formula, and then pastured with their mothers once weaned. if they are sold for veal, they are butchered on the farm, but veal doesn't seem to be very popular here. most of the time, they wait until the animal is older and slaughter it for meat (again, on the farm).

            getting involved with local, raw dairy (and a cow share that goes with it if necessary) makes a massive difference in the way the animals are treated.

            also, i learned that our favorite cheesemaker (kapiti -- which is less than 50 miles from our home) uses milk from a variety of sources, most of them local, small producers. they use sheep, goat, and cows milk, most direct from small farms and hobby herds. it's partly why the cheese is so expensive, and it made it easy to go "dairy light" here because when you are buying high quality, local cheese, you can't afford it in quantity. So, we use a small amount when we feel the urge.

            right now, we have some parm still in the cheese bag, but that's almost gone. we used some creamy blue on our vacation -- took two weeks to finish about 4 oz. LOL

            each week, we get milk (to make kefir) and yogurt, raw from our cow share. that was the least expensive way to get dairy, honestly, and we prefer raw anyway. i eat about 1-3 tablespoons of yogurt per week. DS and DH eat more, but it's no more than 1 L of milk per week (made into kefir) and 1.5 L of yogurt.

            but, you know, you feel different about the industry when you are "in" it like this-- know your producers, know your animals and such.

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            • #7
              I have more moral problems with dairy than with meat.... did you know dairy cos only give 2-4 years "active service"? They wear out. To compare some of our (beef breed) cows are chugging along at age 14, 15. I think the extreme breeding is obscene.
              And yet, I still eat cheese... maybe I shouldn't :/

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              • #8
                i don't think it's a problem to eat cheese; for me, i go back to the producer.

                we try to buy as much of our food locally as possible. it's pretty amazing what you can get locally-- even living in a city. if you chose a random definition of "local" such as "100 miles from my house" or "this state" or "this country." it's really something.

                i would say about 3/4 or more of our food is from NZ itself. i would say about 3/4 of that which comes from within an hour's drive of Wellington. The rest is from "greater NZ". And the remaining 1/4 is imported -- from Aus or from China (particularly in regards to produce). Occasionally, some american produce slips in as well.

                it's really just a completely different way of thinking about food -- thinking about the production. And yes, it is more expensive overall. But, you can cut costs. Buying 75% local from the grocer is going to cost *a lot* more than sourcing producers and getting direct from the farms. Also, going without certain "favorites."

                personally, i love cheese and would eat *a lot* of it. but, because it is so expensive, i don't buy much and i savor it. I do buy more inexpensive fruits and veggies, and getting involved with the community garden also helped a lot: we get a lot of good produce that way for free.

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                • #9
                  I never thought about dairy until we moved here, where factory dairy is a prominent industry.

                  Zoebird, you are right, it does make a difference. We aren't involved in a raw dairy, but we do buy from some small local dairies. At first, because I appreciate the idea of keeping money local, but after witnessing large dairy versus small, I just hate to support something that is so wasteful on so many levels.

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                  • #10
                    we used to feed our excess goat's milk to calves & pigs. i don't know why that's so weird; if you're in the business to sell your cow's milk, you can't get milk without the cow calving. but if you want to sell the milk, it can't be going to the calf. it might sound awful, but it's the only way we get milk & cheese...
                    And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair
                    Kahlil Gibran

                    http://simplesunshine.wordpress.com

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                    • #11
                      I know people that own mega dairies and while no body pets the cows or gives then names, most owners really go out of their way to treat their cows right. Why would you want to harm your investment? A cow's physical comfort is a huge concern to a dairy farmer, if the cows are uncomfortable, they give a lot less milk. There are things like brushing posts and cow water beds to make it more comfortable for diary cows. Whether they are sentient beings that feel mental anguish when taken away from their mother's etc., I care not to comment about but if you follow the precepts of the PB an end up eating cows, some discomfort to animals must not cause one too much anguish.

                      Some of the dairy farmers I do know, take a few of the bulls and put them out to pasture to raise for beef so they don't have to eat feed lot beef.

                      I'm not sure what one poster meant about beef breed cows being 14 or 15 years old. If you mean to suggest that cows raised for beef are kept until they are 14 or 15 years old and then slaughtered, I'm highly skeptical.

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                      • #12
                        The big dairies around here don't seem so concerned about their investments, from what I've seen. I agree that the average life of a dairy cow is generally about 3 years.

                        When I call up one of the processors here, I am offered 3 year old holstein for significantly less per pound than 3 year old hereford or angus. Its because the holstein is at the end of its value, versus coming into the height of its value. Yet, milk cows that aren't bred back to back as quickly as possible produce better milk and need fewer interventions, live longer, and over time produce more (at least according to the small-scale guy we buy from).

                        No, the ad just struck me as sad to consider that the life of that animal that is so unnatural from what it should be.

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                        • #13
                          Well, of course a dairy steer will be less than a beef steer - it'll have less quality meat, since it's been bred to be milked rather than eaten.

                          I'm a little confused what you're trying to say here. When a steer has been finished at about 18 months, whether it's a beef breed or a dairy breed, it's butchered for meat. Depending on the breed, & what's in fashion right now to eat, the price will differ. A cow is milked for 3-5 years, at which point it'll have freshened 2-4 time, then slaughtered for meat, usually things like bologna & hot dogs get this meat. You can't milk a pregnant cow, but it does have to freshen in order to produce milk. Very few dairies leave calves with mothers - its easier to track how well the calf is eating & thriving if you do it yourself. That little calf has to get cow colostrum if it has any hope of surviving, so it at least gets it then.

                          If the cow were in the wild, she'd probably get pregnant every cycle. At least using AI you can give the poor girl a break if needed.

                          I don't like factory farms, but the truth still remains that if you treat your dairy animals horribly, you'll get bad milk & not much of it. I grew up on a small farm & have eaten a lot of food I've raised myself, so I do know what I'm talking about. I guess I'm just tired of everyone assuming that every farm is either a tiny place that's grassfed or a huge feedlot as shown by PETA. Most farms are somewhere in between, & most farmers respect their animals.
                          Last edited by aboutsaffron; 01-05-2011, 08:28 AM.
                          And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair
                          Kahlil Gibran

                          http://simplesunshine.wordpress.com

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JeffC View Post
                            Why would you want to harm your investment? A cow's physical comfort is a huge concern to a dairy farmer, if the cows are uncomfortable, they give a lot less milk.
                            Agreed


                            I'm not sure what one poster meant about beef breed cows being 14 or 15 years old. If you mean to suggest that cows raised for beef are kept until they are 14 or 15 years old and then slaughtered, I'm highly skeptical.
                            I meant that a dairy cow would be worn out and sent to slaughter at 3-5 years; whereas a beef cow (as in the breeding females, not the steers) doesn't wear out like that. Beef steers of course go at a couple of years old (under 30 months in the UK).

                            There are good and bad farmers of any kind. I guess I meant that my own "moral line" was something like - breeding for meat - a healthy, happy life and quick death. Breeding for dairy involves a lot more input, artificial feed for the calves (can that be good for them??), extreme breeding / selection, an unnatural lifestyle...... maybe I'm guilty of muddying the waters by comparing "free range" beef with "factory" dairy.

                            Hence the outcry over the UK's first proposed "super dairy" I suppose!

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                            • #15
                              From the annals of improbable research where Catherine Douglas won an Ig Noble prize for determining that named cows do in fact give more milk: http://improbable.com/2009/12/10/ig-...s-of-the-year/
                              Wheat is the new tobacco. Spread the word.

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