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Got Milk? A Disturbing Look at the Dairy Industry

Alternet - Eating milk, cheese, sour cream, ice cream, and other dairy yumminess is impossible to do with a clear conscience -- and I'm not referring to the fat or cholesterol. Calves born into the industrial grip of today's dairy industry have a road ahead of them that is short, but not merciful. Dairy cows are subject to brutal conditions before being sent to slaughter for beef and male calves are worth next to nothing in the dairy business. Some are simply left to die after birth. Many are slaughtered for low-grade "bob veal" a few days after they are born and will end up as cheap hot dogs or dog food.

While a small number of dairies are bucking the industrial trend, the vast majority of dairy products we eat come from factories that are nothing short of horrific in many cases.

"One of the things people don't think about is the effort it takes a cow to produce milk," said Marlene Halverson who has worked on farm animal welfare issues for years. "The amount of energy and the physiological capacity to produce the kinds of yields that industrial dairy farming is demanding of cows today is huge." The average dairy cow on industrial farms produces roughly 20,000 pounds of milk a year -- 10 times more than she'd normally produce to feed a calf.

Professor John Webster, author of The Welfare of Dairy Cattle, wrote, "The amount of work done by the cow in peak lactation is immense ...To achieve a comparably high work rate a human would have to jog for about six hours a day, every day." Read more.

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