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Reform the dairy industry

Reform the dairy industry

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The editorial I am choosing to write about is the treatment of animals particularly cows in the dairy industry. I am writing about this because my parents stopped buying us regular milk five years ago and I wanted to understand a bit more about why they chose to do that.

What I found was that some cows are being raised in dairy farms and are not being properly cared for. I believe that if people have the facts, they will make more informed buying decisions.

In order for a cow to produce milk, they must give birth to a calf. Cows become impregnated around 2.5 times in their life. Cows will show a strong response if their calf is separated at an older age, four days after birth, compared to separation at 6 hours or up to one day after birth. The longer calves stay with their mom, the stronger the cow-calf bond and the greater the response at separation.

The stress of separating mother and baby may also be associated with changes in the immune system that affect calf health and susceptibility to disease.

The ASPCA says that some factory farms also put animals in small confined spaces; they are kept in cages, in overcrowded conditions, with poor air quality, in which illnesses and injuries are frequent. These stressful unsanitary conditions are made worse by rough and abusive handling by workers.

To keep the milk flowing, farmers artificially inseminate female cows about once a year. A female calf will typically continue the cruel cycle of being forcibly impregnated and exploited for her milk, just like her mom. Invitro fertilization can be painful and cause distress in cows.

Male offspring are most likely to be raised for beef. A Holstein cow can produce an average of 729 days of milk. Once the cow is “spent” it will be most likely slaughtered for ground beef. Cows become weak and can be dependent on antibiotics to fight off infections from engorged udders. The standard dairy industry practice is separating mom and baby within 24 hours after birth.

In the past few years, consumers have been gravitating towards dairy alternatives like almond, cashew, and oat milks at a rapid rate. This is due to people wanting to change their diets and being more conscious of what they consume like my family.

While we cannot change the whole dairy industry, by educating others on the treatment of animals hopefully this will wake up the dairy industry to change the ways they treat their animals by affecting their pockets.

Sophia Salmeri

9th grade

New Technology High School

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