If too much is demanded of the dairy cows?

If too much is demanded of the dairy cows?

No milk without a child. This is no different for livestock and is especially interesting in dairy farming. Do the cows now have to give birth to a calf every year, which is then separated from its mother in order to produce more and more milk??

"The calves have always been separated from their mothers, otherwise it would be mother cow husbandry", explains Werner Nutzel, Managing Director of the Forchheim Farmers’ Association. The suckler cow husbandry, however, serves the meat production.

In modern dairy farms in the district of Forchheim there are the so-called calving areas, where all pregnant cows have their offspring. In the first few hours or on the first day, the calf is very much with its mother, from whom it receives the beestings and who also licks her calf, explains Nutzel. Then the calf must go out, already because of the injury danger. He admits that the cow will continue to call for her calf for some time. The calf’s diet is based on "milk replacer" converted, comparable to baby food.

More and more milk yield

At the latest with one year the calf gets teeth and would tear open the teats. Therefore calves must wake up separately from the cows. Most animal welfare organizations agree on this point. The exception: organizations that promote vegan nutrition.

"It’s not about the calf, it’s about the high-yielding cow", Andreas Brucker of the German Animal Welfare Association, Bavarian regional association, emphasizes. Even in the wild, a cow would probably give birth to a calf every year. The calf alone, however, would not need as much milk as is milked. If the cow used to give about 5500 kilos of milk per year, today it is 9500 to 11500 kilos of milk. "The udder tenses, becomes hot, it leads to inflammation of the udder. Antibiotics must be used", complain the animal welfare activists.

Werner Nutzel counters that there are no comprehensible figures for udder infections. There are no reliable statistical figures. The cows are milked and are happy about it in view of the pressure.

Used up after four years

But "on average, the cow is used up at the age of four years and goes to the slaughterhouse", describes Brucker the result of high performance through breeding. The animal is degraded to a commodity. "There is a natural upper limit in all areas. By the breeding progress and the optimal feeding one has approached the achievement upper limit ", admits Nutzel. This high performance could be achieved if all conditions were optimal. Modern loose housing is designed for animal comfort, with running water at all times of the day and night and a supply of concentrated feed to which every cow is entitled. If she gets less, she will lose weight, because the cow is predisposed to give 30 liters of milk. Otherwise they would have to be bred back again, which in turn would involve costs.

But the farmer has to earn an income. And the world-wide trade in the food industry is not to be explained away. "Nobody would say to a car manufacturer, you produce too many cars", Nutzel gives a counterexample. Food produced by the farmer would be sold in Europe and the world market. Only in this way, he said, are the paradisiacal conditions of choosing many kinds of fruit, meat or dairy products possible.

Romanticism has had its day

"The idea that farmers have three cows and produce butter or cheese from their milk, this ideal world does not exist", underlines Werner Nutzel. This also has nothing to do with animal welfare. Species-appropriate husbandry would be a matter of course. Likewise no pain may be supplied to the animal. All products are subject to strict quality criteria – despite falling milk prices, in some cases below the price at which they are produced.

"We can understand that you can’t make a living from it anymore,", says the animal protection federation, which sees the policy in the responsibility and demands equal conditions in all European Union states. The alternative: Worldwide factory farming in which 2000 cows are milked in three shifts. Thank God there are not such enterprises in Upper Franconia. Animal welfare activists and Werner Nutzel of the Farmers’ Association agree on this point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.