There’s a viral video making the rounds on social media this week that people are sharing because they think it’s cute – but it’s not cute at all once you know the dark truth behind it. In fact, it’s extremely sad.
A woman visiting a farm is wearing a cow costume as she stands next to a hutch that houses a baby calf. The baby calf approaches the woman and begins to suckle on the costume’s fake udders.
At first viewing this may seem funny or silly because the calf mistakes the costume for actual udders. But the truth is this baby animal is doing so because she misses her mother; she was never allowed to nurse from her; in fact, she probably had less than 24 hours with her.
You see, that is how the dairy industry works. Cows produce milk for the same and only reason all mammals do: To feed their babies. In order for a cow to produce milk she needs to be pregnant. So, dairy farmers forcibly inseminate cows over and over and over again. A cow’s gestation period is nine months, the same as a human’s.
After a cow gives birth, dairy farmers separate her newborn calf from her almost immediately so that they can steal her milk and sell it.
There have been endless accounts of mother cows bellowing for weeks after their stolen calves. A few years ago, residents in a Massachusetts town close to a dairy farm called the police because they found the cries so upsetting. They were told this is routine in the dairy industry.
This goes on for four or five years – more pregnancies, more stolen babies, more endless milking — to a point where a cow’s body becomes so worn out she is considered “spent.” She is then sent to a slaughterhouse.
If a dairy cow’s calf is female, she will face the same devastating fate as her mother. As soon as she’s old enough, she will be forcibly inseminated so she starts producing milk. If the calf is male, he will be sent to a veal farm.
Yes, this happens to all male calves born on dairy farms. Because males will never produce milk, they are considered a by-product of the industry. Veal is how dairy farmers can still make money off them – they sell them for meat.
Calves are slaughtered for veal starting at around 20 weeks old. They are confined in veal crates where they can barely move to keep their meat tender. They are also fed an iron-deficient diet so that their meat is white from anemia. It’s a disgusting and cruel industry.
This poor baby calf reaching for a cheap costume might’ve been the only time in her life she was ever allowed to nurse anything that even resembled her mother. It’s devastating to contemplate.
Earlier this month, Animal Rescue Mission released undercover video footage taken at Fair Oaks Farms, America’s largest dairy. It rightfully sparked outrage as it exposed horrific cruelty to calves at the hands of the dairy industry. Additionally, the investigation revealed that Fair Oaks had been lying to consumers when they promised none of their calves had been sold for veal. In fact, the truth was just the opposite. Male calves were regularly being put on trucks and sold to veal farms.
All this is why so many people who care about animals have a visceral reaction to the dairy industry. We will never know the depths of its cruelty and the total despair it inflicts upon innocent animals.
Thankfully, dairy is a dying business. In 2018, The Dairy Farmers of America reported that milk sales plummeted by $1.1 billion. And according to the USDA, more than 2,700 dairy farms closed their doors for good.
Still, it’s up to each of us to boycott animal cruelty and say no to dairy. That means only buying vegan alternatives to milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, etc. They’re widely available, they taste amazing, and they’re better for you and the environment.
There are so many awful things going on in the world today that we are powerless to change, but animal cruelty is not one of them. You can stand up for animals every time you sit down to eat just by choosing vegan.