Exhaustion: infertility, lameness and mastitis in dairy cows | Viva!

Exhaustion: infertility, lameness and mastitis in dairy cows

The crushing double burden of pregnancy and lactation for seven months out of every 12 inevitably takes its toll – excruciating mastitis (udder infection), lameness, infertility and low milk yield. A quarter of all UK cows are culled every year because of physical exhaustion when most are only six years old. This is the age equivalent of killing a woman at about 20 years old. Can you imagine that? Professor John Webster of Bristol University’s Clinical Veterinary Science Department, compares this cruel and punishing physical burden to “a jogger who goes running for six to eight hours every day, which is a fairly lunatic pursuit”.

Cows simply cannot meet the nutritional demands of lactation and it is usual for them to ‘milk off their backs’ (draw on body reserves), resulting in a ‘coat rack’ appearance with bones and spines protruding. In other words, the UK’s dairy herd is generally suffering from malnutrition.

Can you imagine being pregnant every year? What a physical burden it would be! There's misery in your milk. Lameness and mastitis in dairy cows is the cost of your cuppa.