Letter of the Day (Oct. 20): Dairy farmers

  • Updated: October 19, 2012 - 7:12 PM

Do dairy farmers really care about their cows?


A group of young dairy cows.

Photo: Jim Rydbom, Associated Press

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I don't doubt that commentary writer Suzanne Vold means well, but I'm puzzled by the claim that dairy farmers care deeply about their animals ("Farmers care, as you do, about the food they produce," Oct. 17).

Cows in dairy production are forced to become pregnant nearly every year of their lives. Once these mother cows give birth, their calves are taken away from them well before they would naturally wean. Dairy farmers, after all, don't want calves drinking the milk they plan to sell.

This separation, as you might expect, is difficult for mother cows, who grieve and mourn the loss of their calves. The majority of male calves born on dairy farms are of no use to dairy farmers.

Because of this, they are very often sold into the veal industry, where they live in extreme confinement, deprived of their mother's milk, until they are slaughtered while they are still babies. Cows can live as long as 25 years.

In dairy production, however, they're typically killed when they are only five or six years old. Once they are no longer "productive," these cows are sent to slaughter, where most are made into ground beef.

Would anyone do these things to animals they cared deeply about? Would you do these things to your dog or your cat?


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