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#1 Old 06-28-2012, 11:04 AM
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So I was visiting one of my favourite "WTFPEOPLE" type sites and they had a post complaining about "radical" vegans. The separation of calves from their mothers came up.

 

Someone posted that this separation was "absolutely necessary" to avoid deadly infections and diseases in newborn and young calves - I was wondering, if anyone knows, how true is this exactly?


I always wonder about people who say they "love" animals, but continue to eat meat. If that's your idea of love, I question what sort of twisted world view you must have.

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#2 Old 06-28-2012, 11:16 AM
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I hadn't heard that calves had to be separated from their mothers to avoid infection.

 

As I understand it, calves get colostrum from their first feedings from their mother. This has various nutrients which the calves need. Male calves aren't needed on dairy farms- not on those which use artificial insemination, anyway- so they're generally sent to places where they're raised (on some sort of milk-replacement formula, at first) for meat.


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#3 Old 06-28-2012, 11:24 AM
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I hadn't heard that calves had to be separated from their mothers to avoid infection.

 

As I understand it, calves get colostrum from their first feedings from their mother. This has various nutrients which the calves need. Male calves aren't needed on dairy farms- not on those which use artificial insemination, anyway- so they're generally sent to places where they're raised (on some sort of milk-replacement formula, at first) for meat.

 

Yeah, I was aware of the value of the colostrum in distributing nutrients and immunoglobulins - I mean, HUMAN babies don't have complete immune systems when they are born. Colostrum is vital.

 

However, she was asserting that even with the first feeding, calves are at risk if they remain with their mother and/or herd and so they HAVE to be separated.


I always wonder about people who say they "love" animals, but continue to eat meat. If that's your idea of love, I question what sort of twisted world view you must have.

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#4 Old 06-28-2012, 11:28 AM
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That's absurd. brood.gif All babies need their mothers, for food, for nurturing, for learning how to be whatever species they are.  Baby calves need to be separated from their mothers as soon as possible so that we can drink every last drop of milk she can produce.


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#5 Old 06-28-2012, 11:29 AM
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However, she was asserting that even with the first feeding, calves are at risk if they remain with their mother and/or herd and so they HAVE to be separated.

That's complete bull**** and a very odd justification for cruelty.  How would animals ever survive without humans to forcefully separate mothers from babies on the day of birth?  How are cows different from every other breastfeeding animal?  Ask her to provide reliable evidence for her statement, because she can't.


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#6 Old 06-28-2012, 11:39 AM
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That's complete bull**** and a very odd justification for cruelty.  How would animals ever survive without humans to forcefully separate mothers from babies on the day of birth?  How are cows different from every other breastfeeding animal?  Ask her to provide reliable evidence for her statement, because she can't.

 

She'd cite her personal professional experience, which she has, using a pathos rhetoric of watching mother cows trying to wake their dead-of-infection calves, saying that's way more traumatic than separating them.


I always wonder about people who say they "love" animals, but continue to eat meat. If that's your idea of love, I question what sort of twisted world view you must have.

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#7 Old 06-28-2012, 11:45 AM
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That's absurd. brood.gif All babies need their mothers, for food, for nurturing, for learning how to be whatever species they are.  Baby calves need to be separated from their mothers as soon as possible so that we can drink every last drop of milk she can produce.

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#8 Old 06-28-2012, 11:53 AM
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How have bovines survived and bred from the beginning of time if this is the case?


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#9 Old 06-28-2012, 11:59 AM
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I would ask for a reference. I have no doubt this is necessary in certain cases, just as (in resource-rich settings) human mothers with HIV should avoid breastfeeding their babies to prevent transmission of the virus. However, there would need to be widespread disease among cow for this to be true, and if it were true, those diseases would theoretically be eliminated from the herd in one generation if the calves are indeed separated.
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#10 Old 06-28-2012, 12:09 PM
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I would ask for a reference. I have no doubt this is necessary in certain cases, just as (in resource-rich settings) human mothers with HIV should avoid breastfeeding their babies to prevent transmission of the virus. However, there would need to be widespread disease among cow for this to be true, and if it were true, those diseases would theoretically be eliminated from the herd in one generation if the calves are indeed separated.

 

Perhaps, but the vast majority of dairy cows are given prophylactic antibiotics to prevent disease.


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#11 Old 06-28-2012, 12:10 PM
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Perhaps, but the vast majority of dairy cows are given prophylactic antibiotics to prevent disease.
Antibiotics only work for bacteria. Hoof and mouth disease, for example, is a virus and is sometimes fatal.
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#12 Old 06-28-2012, 12:18 PM
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If disease is that rampant in the herd that babies need to be separated from their mothers in order to stay healthy then there are major systemic problems! Obviously, in the wild this is not a problem. In small farms and farm sanctuaries this is not a problem. But on factory farms, yes the babies might need to be separated in order to prevent the spread of disease. Tight confinement of animals is a recipe for the quick spread of disease. The current method of animal "agriculture" breeds disease, both for the animals as well as for the humans who eat the animal products. You may want to share this link: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/10/13/factory-farming-is-not-the-best-we-have-to-offer/

 

Here are the real question to ask:

How is slaughtering the baby cows and turning them into veal "good for cows" or "necessary"?

How is slaughtering their mothers after they've produced all the milk they can and turning them into cheap surplus beef for schol lunches... how is that good for cows or necessary?

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#13 Old 06-28-2012, 12:23 PM
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Antibiotics only work for bacteria. Hoof and mouth disease, for example, is a virus and is sometimes fatal.

 

Interesting.  I wasn't very familiar with hoof & mouth, so I looked it up.  Based on a very brief glance at a couple of sites, it is apparently spread through the air or picked up from the ground or something contaminated.  It makes sense that calves would be separated from sick mothers during a breakout, but it's not my impression that they would need to be separated for routine health reasons.  I could be wrong on that though. Either way, it's sad.


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#14 Old 06-28-2012, 12:24 PM
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I hate the whole industry. Lies, ripping a baby away from a mother (uncessary by the way! Just think about it! In nature when babies are born, what happens? They drink from mom o_o and most do just fine!), and hooking the mother up to a machine so that we can have her milk. I'm glad I don't drink milk anymore, the whole thing is disgusting. What would we think if some alien species came and wanted to enslave us for human milk? We wouldn't think their rationalization of what they would do to us as being fair. brood.gif


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#15 Old 06-28-2012, 12:24 PM
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Bull poopy
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#16 Old 06-28-2012, 12:25 PM
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If disease is that rampant in the herd that babies need to be separated from their mothers in order to stay healthy then there are major systemic problems! And well, we already know that's true. Tight confinement of animals is a recipe for the quick spread of disease. The current method of animal "agriculture" breeds disease, both for the animals as well as for the humans who eat the animal products. You may want to share this link: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/10/13/factory-farming-is-not-the-best-we-have-to-offer/

 

Thanks for the link, ElaineV.

 

I feel like the problem in this conversation is she's just going to say "NUH-UH, I KNOW BECAUSE I'M A DAIRY FARMER" and there's no way of proving the truth (or misinformation) of her anecdotal statements. Plus, if the mortality rates are high (compared to domesticated) in the wild, that's only because it's a form of population control - it still ties into her pathos rhetoric of the mothers trying to wake the dead calves thing. I want to say that if they're so heartbroken over the dead calves, maybe they should stop raising cattle altogether.


I always wonder about people who say they "love" animals, but continue to eat meat. If that's your idea of love, I question what sort of twisted world view you must have.

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#17 Old 06-28-2012, 12:26 PM
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Bull poopy

 

 

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#18 Old 06-28-2012, 12:45 PM
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Thanks for the link, ElaineV.

I feel like the problem in this conversation is she's just going to say "NUH-UH, I KNOW BECAUSE I'M A DAIRY FARMER" and there's no way of proving the truth (or misinformation) of her anecdotal statements. Plus, if the mortality rates are high (compared to domesticated) in the wild, that's only because it's a form of population control - it still ties into her pathos rhetoric of the mothers trying to wake the dead calves thing. I want to say that if they're so heartbroken over the dead calves, maybe they should stop raising cattle altogether.

Agreed, that is so ridiculous.

I agree with the points already brought up too, if calves could get infections from their mothers that easily then they never would have survived in the wild.

And if there IS a special risk of infection that is only because of the awful dirty conditions on factory farms then that is a reason to stop treating animals this way, not try to justify taking babies away from their mothers as some kind of necessary evil. dizzy2.gif

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#19 Old 06-28-2012, 01:06 PM
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I hate the whole industry. Lies, ripping a baby away from a mother (uncessary by the way! Just think about it! In nature when babies are born, what happens? They drink from mom o_o and most do just fine!), and hooking the mother up to a machine so that we can have her milk. I'm glad I don't drink milk anymore, the whole thing is disgusting. What would we think if some alien species came and wanted to enslave us for human milk? We wouldn't think their rationalization of what they would do to us as being fair. brood.gif

 

Exactly.


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#20 Old 06-28-2012, 01:06 PM
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And if there IS a special risk of infection that is only because of the awful dirty conditions on factory farms then that is a reason to stop treating animals this way, not try to justify taking babies away from their mothers as some kind of necessary evil. dizzy2.gif

That was what I was trying to say, but I couldn't word it right LOL yes!


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#21 Old 06-28-2012, 01:10 PM
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And if there IS a special risk of infection that is only because of the awful dirty conditions on factory farms then that is a reason to stop treating animals this way, not try to justify taking babies away from their mothers as some kind of necessary evil. dizzy2.gif

 

Again, exactly.

 

As intelligent mammals, we should know that IF a calf has to be taken away from its mother, then something is wrong there.  


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#22 Old 06-28-2012, 05:41 PM
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If we replace that line of reasoning with humans or any kind of animal that we do care about (i.e. dogs), then it would appear very messed up to the general public.

 

"Because we raise dogs in such filthy and unsanitary conditions, mothers and puppies need to separated at birth"

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#23 Old 06-28-2012, 06:09 PM
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If we replace that line of reasoning with humans or any kind of animal that we do care about (i.e. dogs), then it would appear very messed up to the general public.

 

"Because we raise dogs in such filthy and unsanitary conditions, mothers and puppies need to separated at birth"

 

I agree.

It's ridiculous. 


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#24 Old 06-29-2012, 09:21 AM
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You can tell her skeptics and scientists do not take anecdotal evidence seriously for good reason. You may not be able to convince her she's wrong, but you can let her know that she hasn't made a convincing argument herself.


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#25 Old 06-29-2012, 10:38 AM
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While I dont wish to justify dairy production or animal use, I do think its important to get the other sides story as well. You might find this post helpful in taking that perspective, A new baby, now what?
 

If you would like to contact some farmers who are more than willing to answer some questions from their POV I can give you some leads

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A new baby, now what? by

I, like just about everyone on facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest and every other form of social media, tend to post a lot of pictures.  No real surprise that instead of kids, cats, dogs or shoes my pictures are mostly photos of cows, calves and farm life. Cats, dogs, shoes and other random photos do make the cut but it’s mostly all about the cows. If you follow me on twitter and were to look back on my tweets you would see lots of bad, blurry snapshots of wet calves late at night, usually with their mother’s muzzle in the frame licking the new calf off. The next morning you would see photos of a cute, dry, fluffy calf cuddled up in it’s calf hutch. But i’ve never really posted much about what happens between the photos. So I decided to take some photos from start to finish (mostly, I thought of this idea part of the way through) and share them with you.

So here it is…. How baby calves go from wet and squishy to soft and cuddly.

Hey look! It's a new baby! Gentle the heifer is now Gentle the cow.

When we have a new calf born the first thing I do is make sure that the new mama gets up and shows an interest in her baby. Calves need the stimulation of their mother licking them off to get their bearings after being born. If the cow doesn’t show an interest in the calf I will grab a towel and start to rub the baby dry myself. Thankfully Gentle had the instinct to lick off her calf. The second thing I do when we have a new calf born is lift up it’s back leg and check the plumbing. While we do use Ultrasound to check gender of our calves before they are born sometimes we get a surprise. Gentle had a heifer (girl) calf.

She got up on her own! But she sure looks wobbly.

One of the most common questions I have from people about calves is why we don’t keep baby calves with their mothers on a dairy farm. Or why we keep calves in those little houses and not with their moms. My answer is that we do let the mama cows lick off their babies, but after that we take over care of the calf. We do this for many reasons. The first is that our cows calve in a group pen, if you have ever been in a situation where you have a pack of baby hungry women and a newborn you can imagine what the calving pen is like after a calf is born. Often times a cow other than the one who gave birth will want to claim the new calf as her own. Some times several cows want the calf to be theirs. This usually upsets the actual mother of the calf and since cows can’t use their words, a lot of pushing and head butting comes into play. The problem with this is that these cows get so caught up in wrestling that they forget that there is a brand new baby in the area and the calf can get stepped on and hurt or even killed. The second reason we take over for the cows is that just like a human newborn calves don’t have much of an immune system built up yet. For the same reason that new moms refuse to hand over their precious bundle of joy to a hacking, sneezing and feverish person we do what we can to stop the spread of any bugs to the baby calf. Since no one has been able to litter box train a cow yet, manure happens and as you can imagine manure can carry said bugs. A third reason we take over and one that will resonate with any mother who has nursed her child…. Calves are born with teeth and they are sharp! When a calf is hungry they will wander up to their mother and take their cute little heads and punch their mother’s udder with it to get them to let down their milk. I am not certain why a cow is designed to reward bad behavior but they are. Then the calf with start to suckle, teeth and all. While a beef cow’s udder is more built for this kind of thing a dairy cow’s udder just doesn’t handle the abuse as well.

This calf hutch will be her home until she is weaned from milk and ready to move into a group pen.

So after the calf is born and we have moved the calf to her own hutch, her mother will be milked. This milk is called colostrum, it is thick and sticky and is full of maternal antibodies that will help the new calf build a strong immune system. Before the calf is given the colostrum, on our farm, we use a product called Ecolizer. It’s an oral dose of antibodies that will help her build immunity specifically to the e.coli bacteria.

This is what the tube looks like. Ecolizer is made by Novartis and I have seen an improvement in overall calf health since I started using it.

After the calf has a chance to absorb the Ecolizer, it’s time to eat! Because the colostrum from the cow is so important for the calf’s future we want to make sure that the calf gets at least a gallon of colostrum into their tummy in the first 12-24 hours. This is another reason why we take over from the cow. It’s vital to the calf that it get enough colostrum in the right amount of time. A calf slowly loses the ability to absorb the antibodies from the colostrum every hour after the first 6 hours of it’s life.

While this little girl is smaller than average, it's still important that she get a full gallon of colostrum. Since I don't want her to get too full I will feed her the entire amount over the course of about 8 hours.

The next important step is to make sure the calf is identified. Most dairy farms use ear tags to do this. The calf is assigned a number and given a name. On our farm the calf gets a name that starts with the same letter as it’s mother’s name. So Gentle had….

Meet calf number 243, better known as Gem.

Hanging out in the run in front of her hutch.

Little Gem was born with some pretty crooked legs. This is probably due to a combination of being scrunched up inside of mom and not getting enough selenium. Most areas of our country don’t have to worry about getting extra selenium into their expectant mothers because the feed grown in the area contains a good amount. But here in Southern Wisconsin we have very low selenium levels and extra supplementation is needed. To help Gem get good strong legs under her I gave her a small dose of selenium.

This is what it looks like.

Just a very little bit is needed to help her get on the right track.

So Gem was born early Saturday morning. She is doing very well and her legs have already straightened out a great deal. Gem will live in her hutch for the next 2-3 months. We usually wean the calves off of milk at about 2 months old. They will stay in their hutch until they are ready to be moved into group housing with a few calves that are the same age and size. So the next time you see calves in hutches I hope you will have a better idea of how we care for our calves. If you have a question please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer it.

 


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#26 Old 06-29-2012, 10:44 AM
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It should also be noted that nature makes accommodations for sometimes alarmingly high infant death rates, but these arnt wild animals, they are domestic animals with a price on their heads, its in a farmers best interest to do everything cost effective possible to reduce infant death rates.


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#27 Old 06-29-2012, 12:20 PM
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Hearing from a dairy farmer about why calves "must" be separated from their mothers is about as meaningful as hearing from meat eaters about how humans "must" have meat to survive. 

 

You know the person quoted above is responsible for veal calves too.  They'll make any excuse about how their practices aren't cruel in order to keep the profit going.  The fact is that withholding milk from calves means more milk for humans.

 

Quote:

While disease transmission is given as the rationale for isolating calves, there is little research documenting the risk.

 

http://www.farmsanctuary.org/mediacenter/assets/reports/dairy_report.pdf

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#28 Old 06-29-2012, 12:29 PM
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And SV, I find that picture that you posted of the calf taken away from her mother and isolated in a pen disgusting.  I think someone who does that to a newborn baby who craves her mother (and a mother who craves her baby) absolutely morally bankrupt, and her words are full of self-serving excuses.  The "other side" you want to present can be summed up as "profit."  They're not doing what they do for the welfare of the animals, they're doing it for money.  And you have to look at what they say through that reality.


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#29 Old 06-29-2012, 02:03 PM
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Thanks for posting that, SkepticalVegan. Now, where to start?...

 

...but after that we take over care of the calf. We do this for many reasons. The first is that our cows calve in a group pen, if you have ever been in a situation where you have a pack of baby hungry women and a newborn you can imagine what the calving pen is like after a calf is born. Often times a cow other than the one who gave birth will want to claim the new calf as her own. Some times several cows want the calf to be theirs. This usually upsets the actual mother of the calf and since cows can’t use their words, a lot of pushing and head butting comes into play. The problem with this is that these cows get so caught up in wrestling that they forget that there is a brand new baby in the area and the calf can get stepped on and hurt or even killed.

 

Okay... don't mothers-to-be of some species of herd animals usually go off by themselves to give birth, and rejoin the herd a short time later? Leaving the safety of the herd could pose its own hazards to mother and baby, so I might be wrong. Perhaps a system where each pregnant cow had her own stall would solve this problem about a gaggle of cows going nuts with motherly instinct. This would be more expensive than a group pen, I suppose.

 

The second reason we take over for the cows is that just like a human newborn calves don’t have much of an immune system built up yet. For the same reason that new moms refuse to hand over their precious bundle of joy to a hacking, sneezing and feverish person we do what we can to stop the spread of any bugs to the baby calf. Since no one has been able to litter box train a cow yet, manure happens and as you can imagine manure can carry said bugs.

 

The herd is confined to a relatively small area, so there could be a buildup of pathogens which would be less likely to occur in nature.

 

A third reason we take over and one that will resonate with any mother who has nursed her child…. Calves are born with teeth and they are sharp! When a calf is hungry they will wander up to their mother and take their cute little heads and punch their mother’s udder with it to get them to let down their milk. I am not certain why a cow is designed to reward bad behavior but they are. Then the calf with start to suckle, teeth and all. While a beef cow’s udder is more built for this kind of thing a dairy cow’s udder just doesn’t handle the abuse as well.

 

A cow who's been bred to produce milk has a more delicate udder than one bred for beef??!!  Whaaaa? I knew about bovine calves butting their mommas to ask for milk, but sharp-toothed calves sound like some sort of Monty Python joke.

 

I'm sure that they benefit in some ways, such as being protected from predators, but the bottom line is that humans are using these animals for human ends and the welfare of the animals themselves is a secondary concern (when it's a concern at all).


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#30 Old 06-29-2012, 03:16 PM
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Perhaps a system where each pregnant cow had her own stall would solve this problem about a gaggle of cows going nuts with motherly instinct. This would be more expensive than a group pen, I suppose.

I believe there is such a system in use in some places, but as you said it more expensive and space intensives so many farmers. i agree that intuitively this seems preferable from a welfare POV (though obviously not the ideal of non-exploitation)

And yeah calves can have sharp teeth, apparently it can also causes issues with chewing early on.

I just wanna reiterate that Im opposed to animal use. But I do try to get the different POVs.


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