Hunger: how milk production starves cows of nutrition | Viva!

Hunger: how milk production starves cows of nutrition

The Holstein cow has been bred to overproduce milk, making up to 14 times more than her calf could ever drink. For much of the year, the food she eats has to:

  • nourish herself
  • nourish her growing calf during pregnancy
  • produce enormous quantities of milk

It is almost impossible! The result is a distressed animal who simply cannot eat enough food at pasture to be healthy and is in a permanent state of metabolic hunger. Cows would naturally spend 12-14 hours a day lying down but the modern dairy cow faces the constant conflict of whether to allow herself the rest she needs or continue eating. The high demands for calcium and magnesium during pregnancy and for her unnaturally high production of milk often results in illness. Milk fever is the most common cause of sudden death in dairy cows and happens when her low blood calcium cannot support her nerves and muscles. Grass staggers happens when her magnesium intake is low but her needs are high – she may become nervous and excitable and then stagger and fall. Many cows die from this completely preventable disorder.

There's nothing healthier than a glass of the white stuff - unless you're a cow. Milk production starves cows. Learn more about how dairy does more harm than good.