14 September 2017

“Farmers Have a Different Mental ‘Connection’ With Animals”

Dairy with 'I Love Milk' sign in the background, veal crates in the foreground.
Minnesota dairy farm. Photo by: Bruce Andrew Peters - Visit on Facebook

DAMN DAIRY by Karen Davis, PhD, published Sept. 11, generated a lot of discussion including the following two emails to Karen from professionals who are well acquainted with the dairy industry. Because dairy farming is still regarded by most people as a wholesome and benign enterprise, it’s important to counter this false perception with the horrible truth about dairy.

From Peggy Larson, DVM, Sept. 11, 2017

As a veterinarian who occasionally worked on dairy farms, I refer to comments by farmers who say they love their animals and interact with baby calves. They don't have time to do this for one thing. And farmers have a different mental "connection" with animals. Having grown up on a cattle ranch/grain farm, we took care of our animals, but when it came time to send them to slaughter, we didn't think about their future. It was part of the business of ranching - raise, sell, slaughter, and repeat the cycle. It wasn't until after vet school that my mindset changed.

I worked as a research technician for the head of the Department of Neurosurgery during vet school. He used to take me along when he did brain autopsies on people who died from strokes, cancer, accidents, etc. He described each part of the brain and told me what the function was. Meanwhile, I am studying animal brains over at the vet school. NO DIFFERENCE. That was when I changed.

Peggy W. Larson, DVM, MS, JD, is a large animal veterinarian and a prosecutor.

From Gail Eisnitz, author of Slaughterhouse, Sept. 11, 2017

Thanks for your terrific essay on problems in the dairy industry.

Just a note to tell you that with the expansion of mega dairies, I'd venture to say that things have gotten considerably worse since publication of my book. We investigated a mega dairy that currently has 55,000 cows and replacement heifers on site. We documented everything from unwanted bull calves being starved to death, beaten to death, and shot, to milking cows having portions of their teats sliced off (without anesthesia) because they were so infected with mastitis.

Likewise, big dairies in western Texas and eastern New Mexico, which house their cows on dry lots with no shelter from adverse weather, incurred losses of 40,000 cows and calves during a blizzard in late December 2015. With 18 inches of snow on the ground and 80 mph wind gusts, most of the cows and calves suffocated in snow drifts. The deaths of 40,000 barely made the news.

Which only goes to show that things have gotten worse in those 20 years.

Gail Eisnitz
Chief Investigator
Humane Farming Association

The following article also appeared on Sept 11 and we are pleased to share it with you:
“A Farmer's Daughter Speaks Out: 'Dairy Is An Everyday Dystopian Horror'”

Painting of a girl in hay hugging a cow
Friends by Twyla Francois