Clarabelle & Daphne
28th November 2014
Are these the happiest cows?
Well they may not know it just yet but Clarabelle and Daphne have every reason to be the happiest cows and we cannot wait until they learn the reason why! You see they are dairy cows but as the big bold ‘S’ spray painted on their udders told, they were soon to be no longer for this world. However it was not an abattoir-bound truck that arrived that day to take them away, rather a straw lined chariot to chauffeur them to the happiest place they could ever imagine.
As the average Australian guzzles down 106 litres of milk and 13 kilograms of cheese each year, rarely a thought is given to the cows who produced this. Romantic images of happy cows grazing green pastures, doing what we are told cows do best; ‘giving us milk, cream and cheese’ has caused our love affair with the dairy industry. After all, no one gets hurt to produce dairy, right?
Sadly not so. Assaulting more than our taste buds is the truth of dairy. In order to produce milk all year round, a cow must be kept in an almost perpetual state of pregnancy and lactation; she is after all a mammal like us. Despite a misguided belief, cows do not produce milk simply by virtue of being a cow. The calf, whose ultimate fate is determined by gender, is always taken away from his or her mother shortly after birth. Males, having no ability to produce milk, are generally sent to slaughter within their first week of life. Females if not retained for herd replacement animals or live export (often to China) for dairy production, also meet the same grim fate as their male counterparts.
But what of this country’s 1.69 million mother cows? The average lifespan of a dairy cow in Australia is 6-7 years, whereas a cow’s natural life span is around 20 years. Once a cow is no longer able to calve or produce sufficient quantities of milk, she is sent to slaughter. The sheer scale of the unnatural milk production modern dairy cows endure poses serious animal welfare issues for gentle cows like Clarabelle and Daphne. Infections of the teat and udder are common as too are foot problems, which all cause pain and suffering. Painful procedures such as routine dehorning or disbudding, along with tail docking (although not as common) also occur, all without the requirement for pain relief. Dear Daphne, unable to swatch pesky flies with her short stumpy tail, bears the legacy of the latter. But there can be little doubt that one of the greatest stressors mother cows endure is having each successive baby taken away.
But this is where Clarabelle and Daphne will become the happiest cows, for we know we saved more than two animals with their safe arrival at Edgar’s Mission. For Clarabelle and Daphne are both pregnant! Due to calve early next year they will indeed be the happiest cows for no one will ever take their babies away, not ever!