Separation: what happens to calves born to dairy cows? | Viva!

Separation: what happens to calves born to dairy cows?

A cow would naturally suckle her calf for nine months to a year but calves born on dairy farms are taken away just a day or two after birth, once they have suckled the colostrum – and all so we can drink the milk that was meant to nourish her calf. A strong mother-baby bond forms within the first few hours of birth, making their separation traumatic and supremely callous (Marchant-Forde et al, 2002). And it makes no difference whether the farm is organic or intensive. The cow will be made pregnant again two to three months after her calf has been removed and the process is repeated every year until she is killed. The magic of reproduction has been perverted with cows no longer seen as mothers producing food for their babies. Instead, they are seen merely as milk machines. Elsewhere in this guide, you'll have read about the typical yields expected of - and exacted from - most dairy cows during their average lifespan of five years. It's enough to put you off your morning cereal.

So, do you ever wonder what's in a glass of milk? Misery's the main ingredient. What happens to calves born to dairy cows? The truth might change your life.