Most of us start or end our day with a glass of milk, knowing very little about how that glass of milk was produced. A documentary released on National Milk Day covers the entire process of dairy production.
The documentary, titled “Deadly Dairy”, is an outcome of Animal Equality’s study covering small, medium and large dairies across in the North (Haryana and Punjab), South (Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka), East (Uttar Pradesh) and West (Gujarat and Maharashtra) of India. During the study 107 dairy farms, two semen collection centres, 11 cattle markets, eight slaughterhouses, seven meat markets and five tanneries were visited covering all the cruelties inflicted on dairy animals, from birth to slaughter.
Reproduction in dairy does not take place through natural mating anymore. According to our study, 100% of the dairy farms covered in the study used artificial insemination, irrespective of its size. At semen collection centres, bulls are unnaturally made to mate with other bulls known as ‘teasers’, who are made submissive by cruel means like beating.
Semen collected from such tormented bulls is inserted into the uterus of the female animal, often by inexperienced men with unsterile equipment in unhygienic conditions. This process, called artificial insemination, is repeated year after year.
According to the study and on-ground research, 100% of the dairy farms had calves tied away from their mothers. In some cases, they were tied away immediately after birth. This is done to ensure that calves do not drink any milk.
In 100% of the dairy farms, male calves are either sold for slaughter or starved to death as they do not produce milk and add to the cost of the dairy owner. Dairy farmers have accepted this practice on record in the study.
When the calf is taken away, a cow will mourn the loss. She withholds milk, as she only wants to nurse her young. Dead calves are stuffed with hay to trick the mother into thinking it’s her baby.
When this doesn’t work, dairy workers use illegal drugs, such as ‘oxytocin’. It is a common misconception that this drug increases milk output; all it does is expand the muscle thereby releasing the milk.
Oxytocin induces labour-like pains and is known to harm the reproductive cycle of animals thereby reducing their life expectancy. And the consumption of milk from animals injected with oxytocin is known to cause severe hormonal imbalances among its consumers.
Female calves are fed milk formulas and eventually, they replace the older female animals and are subjected to the same cruel cycle.
Dairy animals do not receive any exercise whatsoever. They are tethered with short ropes all their lives forcing them to sit in their own faeces and urine. Some dairy farmers have gone on record saying that the animals don’t need any exercise.
The animals are often brutally hit with sticks or chains, punched, kicked and subjected to sexual abuse as workers shove their fingers inside the cows’ sensitive genitals.
There is no veterinary doctor on board and many of the dairy owners self-medicate the animals in order to save costs. Many animals were seen with injuries or suffering from untreated diseases.
Some of the owners resort to abandoning the sick animals, which makes the animals susceptible to accidents, attacks, consumption of garbage containing plastic, paralysis, etc.
A lesser-known fact is that animals raised for dairy are ultimately sold for meat. Earlier animals who stopped producing milk were sold for slaughter but more than 75% of the dairies sell their animals even when their production declines by one or two litres.
Cattle markets meant for the sale of agricultural bulls and dairy animals often facilitate the sale of unproductive animals and newborn male calves for slaughter. More than 30 animals were stuffed in a truck which should not carry more than six animals as per the Transport Rules 1978. The men shove sticks or fingers in animals’ genitals, rub chilly in their eyes, twist break the tails to make them submissive.
At the slaughterhouses, the butchers fail to kill the animals in one slit. They repeatedly slit the animal’s throat resulting in severe shock. It’s a routine act to kill an animal in full view of others waiting in the queue. It is also noticed that the animals are alive while they are skinned.
Some meat shops in Kerala practice barbaric ‘hammer slaughter’ where the animal is repeatedly bludgeoned with a hammer on the head till the animal falls unconscious.
India has more than 327 million cattle. It may seem that cattle are protected but they are subjected to this torture every day. Cattle generally live up to 15-25 years but because of all these cruelties, their bodies begin to deteriorate at the age of four or five.
These cruel practices are a blatant violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Transport Rules, 1978, the Slaughterhouse Rules 2001 and various orders from High Courts and Supreme Court of India.
From birth to their deaths, the dairy production cycle is rife with animal abuse. Knowingly, or unknowingly, we as consumers are contributing to the sexual abuse, torture and ultimately, the death of innocent animals. Is all of this worth it just for a glass of milk?
It is, for this reason, many people across the world, including India, are eliminating milk and milk products from their diet and replacing it with plant-based alternatives derived from coconut, almond, soya, rice, oats and cashew milk.
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