Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > New Zealand


Dairy products are anything but natural. The milk that a female cow produces was not made for humans but for her own offspring. We are the only species on earth to drink another species' milk. Why? The dairy industry is fouling our environment with pollutants and is responsible for immense animal suffering. Every year, millions of animals suffer and die due to the dairy industry. The common belief in the health benefits of drinking milk is false, dairy products are responsible for some of the most common and severe diseases that humans suffer from.

What's wrong with Dairy?

Mother's milk is designed for feeding growing babies, cows milk is designed for baby calves to support their growth into adult cows and bulls. Cow's milk provides the calf with the nutrients to double their birth weight in one and a half months and to grow up into a 200kg youngster in just a year. Cows' breast milk is much higher in protein than requirements for humans and provides everything calves require for rapid growth. Cow breast milk also contains her antibodies and hormones and may contain chemical toxins she has ingested such as exhaust fumes, herbicides, pesticides and chemical medications such as antibiotics, organophosphate dips and drenches. Pesticides and other chemicals that end up in the cow's fat stores are passed on in the dairy fat.

What about Calcium?

Humans, like cows, can get all the calcium they need from plant foods. There are plant based foods rich in calcium. Grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables such as beans, peanuts, parsley, almonds, spinach, onions, sesame seeds, and broccoli all contain the calcium we require, with the added benefit of being a healthy protein and fat source. Many of the "milk alternatives" available are also good sources of calcium, such as soymilk, rice milks and almond milks. Calcium can easily be consumed by eating more fresh green vegetables, grains and nuts. Calcium deficiency can be associated with those consuming high amounts of animal protein, or high fibre diets. Dairy products are one of the leading causes of food allergies. It is the proteins in dairy foods which trigger many allergic reactions. Many studies have shown allergies to dairy food causing irritability, restlessness, hyperactivity, bloating, diarrhea, headaches, lack of energy, nasal stuffiness, sinusitis, asthma, rashes, eczema and hives.

Support the bobby calf/veal meat industry? If you eat dairy you do.

The cow, like all other mammals, must have been pregnant and given birth to produce breast milk. Every year the cow is impregnated (usually artificially by the farmer) and gives birth in order to keep the cow producing breast milk.

No pregnancy = no milk.

The "unwanted by-product" of this pregnancy is the baby calves. Within 2 days of giving birth, the calves are taken from the cow and either sent to slaughter, sold or a small number of females are kept as replacement dairy cows. In New Zealand there are approximately one and a half million calves slaughtered yearly in abattoirs, this does not include calves killed on farms "homekill" or calves aborted and killed on the farm. Can you imagine taking a crying baby from it's mother at 2 days old, at 4 days old herding it scared and unsteadily onto a truck, sending it to be stunned and have its throat cut? This is the reality of dairy farming in New Zealand, both on organic and non-organic farms. The bobby calf meat industry relies on the dairy industry to supply it with calves for slaughter. Without dairy cows giving birth every year, there would be few calves to kill.

What about those calves that don't even get a chance?

In New Zealand on some dairy farms, there is a practice of inducing early birthing or abortions from a couple of days to 8 weeks prematurely to advance the calving of cows. The cows are forced into early birthing or abortion of the calves, not for health reasons (which some induction's are practiced for), but to decrease waiting time for calving. As with all farming practice, it is done as a matter of financial benefit, not for the interests of the cow and calf. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, calves that are around 8 weeks premature are killed on the spot, calves born later in pregnancy may survive but risk health problems and their chance of survival is greatly reduced. Justification of late pregnancy abortion practice includes: It is more humane to abort a calf and kill it, than to allow it to be born naturally and be loaded onto a truck and taken to slaughter at 4 days old. Cows subjected to induction's have a higher risk of retained placenta, infection, and other serious conditions.

Colostrum - the healthfood?

Colostrum is the thick yellow fluid which is produced by the cow (and all lactating mammals) initially after birthing, it is the first "milk" for newborns (approx. 36L from the cow). It contains protein, nutrients for growth, antibodies for disease protection and immune support. Colostrum is necessary for calf health, growth and protection from disease. The newborn calf is particularly vulnerable to disease - in particular, pneumonia and diarrhea (scour). The colostrum contains extra nutrients and antibodies to help protect the calf at this time. Colostrum is crucial for the prevention of calf diarrhea and pneumonia. On farms providing colostrum to the health food industry, this crucial food is currently being withheld from calves. It is being stripped from the cow, processed and marketed as a health food supplement. Colostrum is also sold to animal food and medicine manufacturers, for supplemental or replacement feeding.

The life of the "dairy" cow

In New Zealand cows are forced to milk twice a day for approximately 10 months of the year. There are approximately 3,200,000 cows being milked in New Zealand. The average life of these cows is 5-7 years, after which they are sent off to slaughter due to poor reproduction, reduced milk production, health problems (usually related to stresses of intensive farming) or replacement with younger animals. The life of a cow would naturally be approximately 20-25 years old.

For most of her shortened adult life, the cow will be pregnant and milked. She is usually mated for the first time at 15 months old having her first birth at 2 years of age (while still a youngster). She should be producing around 30 litres of milk a day. She will continue to be milked for 10 months - but will be made pregnant again within 3 months. For the final few weeks of pregnancy she will be "dried out" (stop being milked) and her overworked udder given a rest.

Cows will never have the opportunity to raise any of their calves. The calves will be removed from her at birth or 2 days old. Seperation of the cow and calf is traumatic and upsetting, both cry and search for one another.

Common problems affecting cattle on dairy farms

Mastitis - The inflammation of the udder caused by a bacteria. Many factors influence mastitis including cracked teats, injuries, poor milking methods. The affected teat may be red, swollen, hard, and the cow may become very ill.

Milk fever - A common disease of high producing cows which occurs in late pregnancy or during lactation (producing milk). It is associated with falling levels of calcium. Signs include restlessness, tremors and staggering, she can become semi-conscious laying down, treatment is required as this can be a fatal condition.

Scours in calves - passing of soft often watery faeces. The calves condition becomes very weak and many can die. Can be caused by stress, poor food, exposure to cold, and transportation.

What can you do?

Stop consuming dairy products and show you do not support the cruelty inflicted on cows and calves. Stop consuming dairy products for the health of yourself and family.

Some dairy related by-products

Casein: main protein of milk. Use/s: cheese making

Lactic acid: acid produced by the fermentation of milk sugar but also by fermentation in pickles, cocoa and tobacco. Use/s: acidulant in confectionery, soft drinks, pickles and sauces

Lactose milk sugar: Use/s: tablet filler, sweetener, 'carrier' for flavouring agents & emdash; especially in crisps.