Author Topic: Slaughter of baby calves is the 'dark secret' of the dairy industry.  (Read 7411 times)

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Slaughter of baby calves is the 'dark secret' of the dairy industry.
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2011, 04:47:46 PM »
Killing of young calves is dairy industry's 'dark secret'.

   THE dairy industry is preparing to fight a major attack from animal rights groups over its treatment of young dairy calves.

The Australian Dairy Farmers annual general meeting in Melbourne today will discuss how the industry can best protect the welfare of surplus male calves, now usually slaughtered in abattoirs when just five days old.

The Animals Australia advocacy organisation has branded the killing of 700,000 "bobby" calves a year as the "dark secret" of the dairy industry.

It has launched a new campaign, backed this month with advertisements in city newspapers, claiming these "unwanted, bewildered babies" are taken from their "grieving mothers" at birth, deprived of their milk, discarded by farmers as waste product and sent to die a lonely death in an abattoir when less than a week old.

Much of the furore is focused on the time-lag between the baby calves leaving the farm and being killed (with a mandatory stun gun) in the closest abattoir, which can mean the calves go without food or milk for more than a day.

"This is the dark secret lurking in every unassuming glass of milk," the Animals Australia advertisements claim. "These calves are denied their mothers, food and the right to life, spending the last day of their short life cold, hungry and scared."

But to dairy farmer Chris Place, who lives in Camperdown, 195km southwest of Melbourne, the growing concerns of the animal welfare lobby are misplaced.

Mr Place says of the 350 calves born each year on his Victorian property to keep his 400 cows producing milk, about 100 of the young male or bull calves are sold to abattoirs when five days old because he has no use for them.

He is paid between $50 and $80 for each five-day-old dairy bull calf, with the processor selling some meat as milk-fed veal, other parts as a high-protein meat additive in canned export products, while the small, soft hide goes to leather tanners, and the stomach to cheesemakers.

But the farmer, who is happy to be the public face of the industry fightback on bobby calves, disputes claims the animals are not cared for during their short life.

"Contrary to what you have been told, there is no dark secret -- our calves are kept in a warm shed and feed on their own mothers' milk for five days, and have their last drink just before they leave our farm," Mr Place said.

The chairman of Australian Dairy Farmers' animal welfare committee, David Basham, said the vexed issue of the welfare of bobby calves, especially progress on imposing an industry standards on the timing of the last feed, would be discussed at its board meeting today.

While stopping short of calling for a boycott of all dairy products, Animals Australia chief executive Glenys Oogjes wants consumers to make their own decisions after learning about the fate and last hours of the young calves.

 by: Sue Neales, Rural Reporter
    From: The Australian
    November 24, 2011