This is the third section in this series about the animals I spent my time at the farm with, you can catch on my previous posts about chickens and goats!
Now it’s time for me to talk about the cows on the farm. At the farm there was a herd of 12 cows and I’ll admit that at first I was a little nervous around them. It can be very overwhelming to be faced with a herd of 12 cows that surround you wanting food. Being up close to these animals you can’t get over quite how huge they are, they stand so tall and you can see every muscle in their bodies, they really are magnificent!
The cows on the farm have glorious fields to roam in, dams to cool off in, trees to shelter under and grass to graze on, a far cry from the life they would have led.
Cows in the meat and dairy industry live awful lives, the ways in which we treat and exploit these beautiful animals is beyond barbaric. Firstly there are the dairy cows. Now here’s a fact that shocks a lot of people, cows only produce milk when they are pregnant, the same as a human or any other animal for that matter! A lot of people never really think about that, we are told that milk comes from cows and so we just believe that they are milk making machines! Now if we see that cows and humans only produce milk when they’re pregnant we’d naturally see that the milk is for the offspring of the pregnant mother – regardless of whether they’re human or an animal! Why do we use cows? Firstly they’re huge, producing large quantities of milk and secondly cows are pretty defenseless, try to take a lionesses cubs and you’d probably have your throat ripped out! A cow produces milk for her baby – it’s as simple as that! The baby is torn away from its mother and she will be milked, the milk which should be for her baby will go for humans (…fucked up, right?!)
Cows in the dairy industry are forcibly impregnated every year to keep their milk flowing. Once the babies are born they are taken away from their mothers, this is the part that really angers me. We would never question a human mothers maternal instinct, or that of a female lion protecting her cubs, yet when it’s a cow people gloss over it, thinking a cows instinct wouldn’t be as strong. Why? All mothers protect and yearn for their young, regardless of their species. Male calves born into the industry are slaughtered at 6 days old, used as leather (the softest leather is usually from calves) or cheap meat. Some of the become veal calves and are slaughtered at a few months old.
Dairy cows will be exploited in this way for years, constantly pregnant, constantly milked, baby after baby ripped away from them, until one day, her time will be up. These cows are referred to as ‘downers’ because they collapse from pure exhaustion and years of being used and abused. They will be sent to slaughtered. The natural lifespan for a cow is 20-25 years, a cow in the dairy industry is usually spent after 5 or 6 years.
Talking of the lifespan of cows, Mary, one of the cows on the farm is 20 years old! She is beautiful old soul, who is the most gentle girl on the farm. Mary lived 17 years on a farm with no other cows and struggled to adapt to living with a herd when she first came to the farm but now Mary is the herd matriarch and has the love and respect of the rest of the herd. Mary gets spoilt rotten at the farm, she is given special feed, medicine for her arthritis and a bountiful amount of carrots everyday!
Learning about the herd dynamic was really interesting, the herd will always look out for one another, they call out if they can’t find each other and keep each other close. Two babies Alfie and Cale recently joined the herd and the whole group dynamic changed Murray, one of the large males in the herd would always wander on the farm and would have to be retrieved from nearby paddocks but as soon as the calves arrived he stayed put, keeping a close eye on the newest members of the family. All the herd would take it in turns to babysit!
Now onto a very special member of the herd called Sam. When I started at the farm Sam was very sick, he’s been ill for a long time. Sam was two years old and had a condition called Lumpy Jaw, this condition causes large lumps to form in the jawbones, throat and neck. Sam was born on the farm, his mum Precious, who is a member of the herd, wasn’t given the correct care while she was pregnant so when she came to the farm and gave birth to Sam sadly his fate was already sealed. Sam was slowly loosing his fight, we would feed him 4 special meals a day, with medicine, electrolytes, molasses, carrots, hay, anything that we thought he could manage. Some of favourite times on the farm were spent with Sam, he was such a gorgeous boy and so sweet-natured. You would walking into the filled, wave your arms to greet him and he knew to follow you for his food. There was one particular evening, the sun was setting and I greeted Sam in the field, it was so quiet and peaceful as we walked across the field back the barn together, it was a lovely moment to share with him.
Sadly Sam grew weaker and weaker and we all knew that the time had come for him. This beautiful boy was fading away in front of us and it was upsetting to see. Sam was put to sleep, the other cows were nearby and he was surrounded by staff and volunteers that loved him. After he passed away his mother Precious came over and licked and nuzzled him for a while before walking off. She spent the next two days on her own away from the herd. Sam was such a beautiful Boy and I’m honoured that I got to help care for him in his last few weeks. This is the last photograph that I took of Sam before he passed away, grazing in the flowers enjoying the sunshine.
The way we treat these beautiful creatures is awful, as a cow you can’t win in the meat and dairy industry, if you’re bred for meat you’re led to slaughter, if you’re used for milk you are used your whole life THEN led to slaughter, or shall I say dragged. It saddens me to think that the cows on the farm are considered the ‘lucky ones’ because they are leading a ‘normal life’!
This video is amazing – WATCH IT!
If you have questions about this subject or about my time on the farm please leave a comment below.
The website for the farm is here http://www.farmanimalrescue.org.au/ it’s located in Dayboro, Queensland. They offer an intern scheme where you can stay at the farm for a month and volunteer.
If you interested in knowing more about veganism there are great documentaries on Netflix including, Cowspiracy, Forks over Knives, Food for Thought and Veducated. They are all worth a watch!
Please like and share this post to raise more awareness for the poor animals that are suffering in the meat and dairy industry!