The Bizarre and Outrageous Cruelty Behind Every “Milk Moustache” – by Will Tuttle
Excerpted from The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle
Fundamentally, cow’s milk is a substance designed by nature for baby cows, not for humans. We are the only species that drinks the milk intended for the young of other species, and we are the only species that insists on drinking milk beyond the time of weaning. It seems we cannot bear the thought of growing up and leaving home. Perhaps we long for infancy and the peaceful oblivion of our mother’s breast, and if hers isn’t available, then we’ll use the breast of any lactating mother, even if she’s a cow and we have to kill her babies to get to it. Just as the complete unnaturalness of humans killing and eating animals is obvious if we contemplate trying to do it without implements, so is the drinking of milk.
The easy availability of veal cutlets and cheap hamburger masks their true cost and the cruelty of their dairy-farm origin, as do the tidy packages of cheese, milk, cream, and butter in the refrigerated dairy sections. In the wild, it is doubtful we’d ever be able to get close enough to a lactating cow, in a forest or grassland somewhere in Asia where cows naturally live, to obtain any milk. Wild bulls are ferociously protective and would gore us or chase us off first. If we managed to get by the bulls, it is unlikely any cow would allow us to get under her and suck on her teats. We would have to compete with the cow’s own baby, the rightful recipient of her milk, and push or kick the calf away, and somehow get the mother to hold still for us while we sucked or squeezed on her teats. The whole image is so absurd that not even the most committed milk-bibber would ever contemplate attempting it. It is only through an ongoing tradition of vicious domination that humans can drink cows’ milk, an unhealthy and perverse action at its core. The dairy products in our grocery stores are the result of many centuries of human manipulation and horrific brutality against cows— a brutality epitomized by today’s mechanized dairy operations, both large and small…
In the wild, a cow, like all mammals, will produce milk after giving birth to a baby, and does so in a classic bell curve for about seven months, beginning at less than ten pounds of milk per day, climaxing at about twenty-five pounds per day, and then tapering back to ten pounds and then to zero as the calf begins to eat solid food. On today’s dairies the newborn calf is immediately removed from the mother, causing enormous anguish to both, and the mother is artificially forced to produce from 90 to 110 pounds of milk per day for a full seven to eight months. Dairy cows are impregnated at a much younger age than would ever occur in the wild, and are kept pregnant virtually continuously, even while they are lactating from the previous pregnancy. The enormous strain of being pushed so hard to produce such abnormally large quantities of milk quickly destroys the health of these cows. Though they would naturally live twenty-five years in the wild, after about four years of this dairy abuse their “productivity” drops off. They are then forced to endure the brutality of the slaughterhouse and be reduced to inexpensive hamburger meat, leather, and animal feed…
Because each dairy cow is forced to produce far more calves than can be used on the dairy, her calves are immediately slaughtered, auctioned to veal operations, or auctioned to build beef herds and killed at one to two years of age. In all these cases, parts of their bodies will end up at the rendering plant, mixed with the offal and unusable body parts of fish, pigs, poultry, road kill, laboratory animals, and euthanized dogs, cats, horses, and other animals, and then cooked, ground up, and added to corn, wheat, soybeans, and other grains to be fed back to the cows. Cows have thus been routinely forced to eat other cows, and quite possibly the flesh and organs of their own young, in their “enriched” feed. The only reason this may now be stopping is the outbreak of mad cow disease, a direct result of such mad agricultural practices. Although the FDA’s ban on feeding the flesh of ruminants to ruminants has reduced the likelihood of cows eating other cows, they are still fed pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish, dogs, and other animals. Considering the reputedly lax enforcement and inspection of this FDA policy, some are likely still forced into cannibalism.
This bizarre and outrageous cruelty lurks behind every milk mustache. It is considered business as usual, and no one has questioned it because the animals involved have been reduced to mere objects by the dairy industry, with the sole overriding goal of producing the most milk at the lowest price. (And with the USDA guaranteeing to buy milk surpluses, the industry maximizes production.7) This whole industry is obviously both a result of—and a contributor to—a severely reduced cultural intelligence that has lost its ability to make basic connections….
The whole dairy business is founded upon stealing: forcibly stealing calves from their mothers and mother’s milk from calves. We have become desensitized to just how cruel this actually is, and how it underlies, perhaps in large measure, our culture’s basic repression, confinement, and exploitation of the female and the feminine principle.
The mothers of all mammals feel terrible emotional stress if their newborn offspring are endangered and will do everything in their power to protect them. Human mothers know how deep this feeling is, and how devastating it would be to have their children taken from them. Mother love will often give its own life for its child. We can see this deep maternal caring in dogs, bears, elephants, monkeys, deer, lions, whales: in all mammals it is a defining and obvious characteristic of mothers. For scientists, agribusinessmen, or theologians to deny this, or discount its importance, only shows how reduced their intelligence and sensitivity have become through their cultural woundedness and consequent skill in disconnecting.
Of all the mammals, it is the cow whose maternal instinct has been perhaps the most obvious and celebrated: her gentle and patient eyes, her natural mothering way with her calf, licking and feeding and watching over her baby, and her loud lamenting when the calf is taken from her. She cannot fight the hands that steal her offspring away, or speak to us in human words, telling us how deeply it hurts her. But it is obvious to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. For us to ignore her suffering, and the suffering of her calf—hundreds, thousands, millions of times over—is to ignore and deny our own decency. There is a deep and terrible transgression in this, the unnatural coveting of the calf’s mother’s milk several thousand years ago, and the building of a whole culture around the stealing of milk, the killing of the mother and her children, and justifying the whole horrific thing by mythologizing it: the Lord promising us the land of milk and honey. This violent theft of milk from enslaved mothers planted seeds of war and exploitation that are tragically almost completely invisible. Today, our culture takes milk for granted! It is aggressively promoted around the world. How can we ever hope for peace when we practice such shameful violence on such a massive scale? . . .
Four Pathways to Hell
The calves taken from their mothers are always destined for brutal mistreatment, and the mother cow certainly has an awareness of this. Animals are remarkably sensitive, as countless cultures have recognized and as scientific evidence is increasingly showing. Mother cows are aware that the hands that confine and rape her and push her so hard for her milk cannot mean well for her children. The dairy-born calf will go down one of four doomed pathways. If she is a female, she may be raised to be, like her mother, a slave in the dairy. She will be removed from her mother as early as possible so as not to waste the mother’s marketable milk. She will be dehorned, usually by the use of a red-hot electric iron applied to her horn buttons….This is described in a modern dairy management textbook:
. . . lay the calf on its side and put your knee on the neck. . . . The dehorner has to be left on the button for approximately five to twenty
seconds. The time will seem longer, because of the combined
unpleasantness of burning hair and a struggling calf . . . dehorning
may be complete . . . when you hear a squeaking sound as the
dehorner is twisted. It is the sound of the dehorner tip rubbing
against the bone of the skull.
…Whereas in the wild a heifer would not be ready to have her first calf for at least three to five years, that is far too long to feed her without getting milk money from her. Cow feed is expensive, so operators want to get her into production quickly, which means getting her pregnant as soon as possible, in just a year or less, when she is still a mere child in human terms. This is accomplished through hormone manipulation, administering excessive amounts of estrogen and other hormones, as well as prostaglandin, a hormone that is used to bring cows into heat when dairy operators want to have them inseminated. In the vast majority of cases, the dairy cow will be confined to a stall or milking paddock year-round, often exposed to extreme temperatures, with nothing to do but eat and stand in one place, reduced to the status of a milk-producing machine. She will be inseminated by a sperm gun shoved elbow-deep into her vagina and fired. The sperm comes from a special bull who also exists to be milked—for his sperm—and will be slaughtered when his productivity declines.
As soon as she gives birth, the cow’s baby will be quickly stolen from her, and she will be milked two to three times per day by the milking machines. No longer something done by her, milking is something inflicted upon her. The machines often cause cuts and injuries and can lead to mastitis, infection of the udder, which is rampant in modern dairies. Sometimes the milking machines give electrical shocks as well, causing considerable discomfort and fear. The cow may also be “drenched,” a procedure routinely performed on some cows after giving birth to reduce metabolic diseases in early lactation. Many gallons of nutrient-dense solution are forced into her through a seven-foot tube shoved down her throat. She may drown if the liquid is pumped too fast or if the tube is stuck into her windpipe. A similar procedure called lavage may be imposed on her newborn calf as well, to administer colostrum.
Right after the cow begins to be milked, she is again inseminated on the “rape rack” by the sperm gun. She is thus both pregnant and lactating simultaneously, and will be taken off the milking machine only during the last two months of pregnancy. As soon as she gives birth, the baby is again taken away, and she goes back on the milking machine and is raped and inseminated again.
All this causes enormous suffering for the mother cows, and their health breaks down quickly. The lactogenic hormones and cholesterol laden feed and unnatural milking schedules cause the cows’ udders to become painful and so heavy they sometimes drag on the ground and in their own feces, increasing the painful mastitis and leading to overuse of antibiotics. Their udders are permanently stretched far beyond what they would be in nature, their ankles swollen and sore from standing constantly on concrete.
After three to five years, these mother cows, dairy slaves, are worn out and sent off in overcrowded trucks to face the final insulting brutality of the slaughterhouse. The majority of “downed” cattle arriving at slaughterhouses are dairy cows. These are animals too weak, diseased, or injured to walk off the truck. Their bones may break easily because of osteoporosis brought on by high protein feed and forced high-volume milk production. Transport may last for several days with no food or water through bitter cold or extreme heat. Sometimes the cows are literally frozen to the inner sides of the trucks.
If they have collapsed, these “downers” are shocked with excruciatingly painful prods. If they still can’t move, they are literally dragged by chains, often tearing skin, ripping tendons and ligaments, and breaking bones in the process. They aren’t humanely euthanized because they’re seen merely as meat, and dead carcasses aren’t supposed to be butchered (though that also happens, according to worker affidavits in Gail Eisnitz’s Slaughterhouse). They’re dragged to the killing floor, where their bodies will be ripped apart to produce hamburger meat, animal feed, pet food, leather, gelatin, glue, and other products. The same scenarios apply to dairies that produce so-called organic milk products, except that the feed is organic, there is a limit to some of the hormones and other toxins, and there may be a little more space in the prison stall. The cows are still slaughtered after a few years, and the same pricing mechanism drives the industry: to get the most milk for the cheapest price. Individual cows are worth very little, since maximizing pregnancies boosts milk production and there are always more calves on hand than can be used.
This brings us to the second possible path for calves born on the dairy: they may be killed shortly after birth if the veal industry and beef industry demand is low. The rennet in their young stomachs is valuable for making cheeses. Their bodies are then ground up for animal feed, and their skin is used for more expensive leather. Sometimes pregnant cows are sent off to slaughter. In this case, the fetal calves that fall out of them when they are sliced open must be killed separately by the slaughterhouse workers. These unborn babies are skinned for the soft leather on their small, wet bodies, which fetches quite a high price. The third possible path for dairy-born calves is to be auctioned to the veal industry. Both males and females are forced down this dark and miserable path when they are not needed on the dairy (this includes organic dairies).
The abuse these poor creatures must endure for their short lives is well known and documented. They are forced into veal crates and chained at the neck as soon as they arrive at the veal operation, only days or weeks old. These crates are built small, to confine the calves so they cannot move, causing their muscles to be undeveloped and their “meat” more tender. They are kept in darkness and fed a diet purposefully deficient in iron so their flesh will be pale, which brings a higher price. They will frantically suck on or lick any iron, like nails that happen to be within reach. They endure this cruel confinement, often covered with their own excrement. Their naturally joyful and frolicsome temperaments are destroyed by the pain and hopelessness of their situations. Their liquid diet is laced with chemicals, drugs, and antibiotics, and after three to four months, they are trucked to the slaughterhouse to be killed for the veal and calfskin markets.
The fourth path for dairy-born calves, if they are male, is to be auctioned to the meat industry and raised for beef. In this case they will face the intense pain of unanesthetized castration when they are still young. These poor animals may also be branded—often several times, inflicting extremely painful third-degree burns—and dehorned, which is also highly painful. They spend one to one and a half years either confined or grazing, growing to a size that makes them profitable to slaughter, and then are sent to the feedlot to be fattened.
On feedlots, hundreds or thousands of castrated cattle are crowded together for a few months with little or no shelter, in fetid confinement, and fed whatever the feedlot operators can devise to make them gain as much weight as quickly and cheaply as possible (when they are sold, the operators are paid by the pound). The unfortunate creatures, mere objects in the meat complex, are given artificial steroid growth promotants such as Ralgro, Synovex, or Rumensin so they will grow to be much heavier much younger than they ever would in nature.15 While cows are natural grass eaters who would never eat grain in the wild, feedlot operators, like dairy operators, have found that feeding them grain boosts growth and profits. Because grain (mainly corn, soybeans, wheat, and oats) is relatively expensive, it is supplemented with cheaper additives to add even more weight to the cattle.
…All four of the possible paths that a calf born on a dairy may take are paths of abuse and early death. Since bovines in the wild easily live twenty to thirty years, the industry, in killing calves, steers, and dairy cows at the ages of several months to several years, is really killing infants and children. In this it is the same as the industries that confine and kill lambs, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and fish: all are pushed to grow abnormally quickly and are slaughtered young. Similarly, in the wars we inflict upon each other, children suffer and die the most, and more than ever they are even forced to do the killing. The animal food culture promotes domination and exploitation of the female and the feminine, which are full of life-giving and nurturing powers, and of infants and children, who are full of the powers of innocence and growth….
That innocent-looking and effective marketing tool, the dairy industry’s milk mustache, is thus actually a mask that hides the most sickening and inhumane industry practically imaginable. These docile vegetarian mothers and their unfortunate children are dominated from birth to death, unnaturally fattened on animal flesh so humans can fatten themselves on dairy products and cow flesh. One would almost hope that for their enormous sacrifice, the dairy cows would at least be supplying humans with something beneficial. And yet the deeper justice is inescapable: by killing them, we kill ourselves; by enslaving them, we enslave ourselves; by sickening them, we sicken ourselves. - Excerpted from The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle