Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

New Expos' Uncovers "The Dark Side of Dairy'

Release date: 
Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dairy cows the most abused of all farmed animals, claims Viva!

A shocking new report and video launched today lifts the lid on modern dairy farming, revealing the miserable conditions and physical anguish faced by Britain's two million dairy cows. The 32-page, fully-referenced report and video are produced by Bristol-based animal campaign group Viva! under the title The Dark Side of Dairy.

Filmed on farms in Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, the video shows severely lame cows, animals so emaciated they are little more than skin and bone, cows with huge udders that can weigh up to 70kg and make it impossible for them to walk properly, day-old calves removed from their mothers and kept in solitary confinement, filthy sheds in which dairy cows are kept for half the year and footage of a growing trend in dairy farming " zero-grazing " a euphemism for factory farming.

Cows are shown limping across fields and farmyards and hobbling out of the milking parlour, victims of widespread laminitis, sole ulcers and other forms of lameness which afflict a staggering one million dairy cows every year " half the national herd. A similar number suffer from excruciating mastitis, a product of being forced to produce and carry far more milk that their udders can cope with. The footage reveals just how grossly deformed cows udders have become in the quest for ever-increasing milk yields.

Public revulsion at factory faming has failed to impress the dairy industry which is increasingly adopting zero-grazing systems for dairy cows. The footage shows cows living permanently indoors on hard concrete covered in excrement " conditions which encourage bacterial growth and ensure even greater health problems.

Some of the most shocking images involve emaciated cows, their skeletal bodies pushed to physical exhaustion by the gruelling cycle of pregnancy, birth and lactation. "Dairy cows are the only farmed animals to bear the dual burden of pregnancy and lactation at the same time', says Toni Vernelli, Viva!'s Senior Campaigner and author of the report. "They are forced to produce up to 120 pints of milk a day while nurturing a growing calf inside them, and this lasts for seven months out of every 12. This merciless workload ensures they are exhausted at five years old " a quarter of their natural lifespan.'

'If dairy farmers think they're suffering, they should try swapping places with their cows! In addition to chronic lameness and mastitis, modern dairy cows endure constant hunger and the repeated emotional trauma of having their newborn calves torn away from them. For people cutting cruelty from their diet, dairy should be the first to go!'

Photos of Viva!'s investigation can be viewed and downloaded at: http://www.viva.org.uk/dairy/