Animal Welfare

Today in Speciesism: Pretending That Dairy Cows Have Bodily Integrity

An article over at the New York Times has the following headline: “With Farm Robotics, the Cows Decide When It’s Milking Time.” This headline is trying to suggest that dairy cows have bodily autonomy. And yet, the dairy industry is only able to thrive by forcing cows to become pregnant and by taking away their calves immediately after giving birth. There is absolutely no way a cow can maintain her bodily integrity and be a dairy cow. Cows do not decide when to get pregnant. Cows do not give away their babies. Cows are forced into pregnancy and then their calves are taken away.  The calves must be taken away, because if they drank the milk that is meant for them, then us humans cannot consume it. The article glosses over this little exploitation (emphasis mine):

But farmers said output generally increased with robots because most cows like being milked more often. (To allow lactation, cows are kept in a near-constant state of impregnation.)

The dairy farmers quoted in the article speak proudly of the robotic milkers, claiming that now they will be able to build a better relationship with their cows. What about the relationship between a cow and her calf?

Articles like the one in the NYT speak in terms of efficiency, economics, and the benefit to humans. While there is some discussion as to the cows “liking” being milked by robots, the focus of the article is not on the cows. This article ultimately reinforces institutionalized animal abuse, of which dairying is included.

There are plenty of cruelty-free milk options available, I urge you to try one:

Try one.

Not your mom? Not your milk!

5 replies »

  1. Hi Rachel,
    Many thanks for your commitment to nonhuman animals. I remember reading this article and being sad for the cows because of the sweeping statements made about how they think and feel. Perhaps they are just trying to make the best of a very bad situation in which they have been placed.
    I just wrote a post about the similar way in which dehorning is explained as being beneficial to the cows who endure it. Anyway, as it was pointed out, many nonhuman farm animals, like cows are stoic and don’t really feel pain. Hard to imagine anyone believing that! You might want to check it out.
    Take care!


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