May 9, 2011
The Tao of Cow
"Compassion is the basis of morality."
This week, I received a request from a college student
who is majoring in nutrition. She is currently taking a class called "Animal
The college student wrote:
My name is
Jessica (Last name withheld). I am currently a junior at the University of
Hawaii at Manoa on a year exchange from Oregon State University majoring in
I am currently enrolled in an upper division class called
Food, and Animals: Ethics, Issues, and Controversies and was writing today
to possibly get your input on some questions I have on my chosen topic for
our end of the year project.
I have decided to investigate the
question "Is it ethical to separate newborn calves from their mother days
after birth in order to simplify management of milking cows?"
thinking it would be interesting to get a qualified organization's input on
why such practices may be labeled as unethical (or the ethical depending on
your view). If it is possible, I would love to ask someone at your
organization, some questions regarding the health, management and overall
process applied to new born calves.
I can email you questions I and
appreciate your response!"
Who suggested that separating calves from
their mothers after a few days on dairy farms is the standard
operating procedure? It is not.
Calves are actually separated
from their mothers almost immediately after birth.
respond simply to your question about ethics.
In 1878 in her book Molly Bawn, author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
The eighth of twelve cranial nerve is the auditory vestibular.
My comment would be:
"Ugliness is in the auditory
vestivial of the beholder."
If ever you were to witness the
live birth of a calf, the following ten hours would haunt you
forever. During the weeks following a separation of mother and calf,
both creatures cry the saddest song that you might ever hear.
Imagine the pain of separation. Often times, this is when dairy
farmers are hurt or killed by furious mother cows.
How do you
imagine that you would react? Jessica? Cows have feelings too. Even
baby cows. Cows are not unfeeling agricultural units as dairy and
meat producers would have you believe. Cows have emotions. Cows have
feelings. Cows show love and form bonds. This is the Tao of cow.
One could write volumes about the morals and ethics of
separating a newborn who has spent nine months growing inside of a
loving mother. What would you expect the reaction of mother and
child to be?
The only ethic concerning the dairyman is the
almighty dollar. Each year, four million male calves born in America
end their lives in a similar manner: