While it is just over two weeks since our dear little buddy Private Bobby passed away, it is over two years since the Primary Industries Ministerial Council reviewed the acceptable ‘time off feed’ limit for bobby calves being transported to slaughter between five and thirty days of age. And sadly, during this review nothing was decided, let alone changed;
Ministers discussed and recommended a mandatory standard for maximum time of feed for bobby calves at the 21st Primary Industries Ministerial Council meeting in October 2011, but could not reach agreement. All industries involved in the bobby calf supply chain (that is dairy farmers, livestock agents, calf buyers and transporters and calf processors) have agreed to implement a national industry standard that sets a limit of 30 hours time off feed for calves aged 5 to 30 days being transported without mothers. This industry will match the only other international standard (New Zealand) for a maximum time off feed.
The killing of unwanted baby calves like our beautiful doe eyed Bobby cuts through all of the science and welfare arguments that industry puts up. It really should call us to question who we are as a society and what we will accept. Not only do we allow nearly one million of these babies to be sacrificed each year for our want of milk and dairy products, but we can also starve them for the last 30 hours of their short lives while they are being transported by truck to slaughter. If we can knowingly accept that it’s ok to do this to obtain milk and other dairy products, how can we claim to be a fair and just society that takes animal welfare seriously?
With another review not scheduled until late 2014, the only hope for Bobby and his friends rests with caring consumers who will act with compassion and a well-founded sense of social justice, knowing that just one person can make a difference.
Here are two great ways to get started:
- Have a ‘Bobby Day’ at your place of work, school or home and introduce others to non-dairy milk alternatives for their tea or coffee. You might even like to get creative and bring along some delicious dairy free snacks as well.
- Put the writing on the wall, or rather on a piece of paper, and tell our Ministers of Agriculture that you care about the welfare of calves. Even though the public consultation period is well over, a short and polite letter stating your objection to the way bobby calves are treated will go a long way to letting these decision makers know we have not forgotten.
Let us wage a new war of kindness for Bobby….