Some years ago, while driving in Devon (in the UK) I had to stop to allow some cows to pass. This wasn’t surprising as Devon is a predominantly agricultural county, so farm animals are everywhere. That day, what struck me most about these particular cows, was their pendulous, supersized breasts.
The Largest Udders I’d Ever Seen
The cows had udders so large, they almost touched the ground. The herd moved past our car, and the udders hung large beneath each animal, bulbous, red and inflamed. The farmer, a shabby man, stood in front of us, ushering each animal across the country lane with a stick.
I wish I’d had the wherewithal that day to use my phone to take a photograph. If I had, you’d be able to see exactly what I saw. The poor cows and their red-raw deformities. I didn’t take a photograph because at that time, I had no clue I’d start this blog.
It looked to me as if the cows were being made to produce as much milk as possible, regardless of the toll it would take on their health.
After a few years of surviving the milk production game, a cow is handed a one-way ticket to the abattoir. To the farming business, once she is too worn out to bear yet another calf, she becomes an unwanted cost.
Good Life, Good Death?
Even if farmers treat animals well, can we conclude that they care about them? You often hear in the press that farmers love their animals. I remember during the Foot And Mouth outbreak in Devon in 2001, when many local beef farms had complete herds shot, the stench of burning cow corpses filled the air for weeks. Many local farmers were extremely depressed; distraught at the pointless loss of animal life.
On another occasion I was in a farm shop with a friend. The butcher woman explained how deeply she’d cared for the individuals whose variously dissected body parts lay sliced in her rather splendid, refrigerated display unit.
This butcher woman was quite different to the farmer chap whose cows I’d seen crossing the road. He struck me as a misogynistic pimp. But I would characterise her more as vigilant prison guard, on a death row, where everyone knows the inmates are innocent.
No matter how farmers approach the odd situation of love and death, and no matter how animals are treated prior to their deaths, they all die in the same abattoirs.
When we fall for the line that a good life and a good execution is a good philosophy, we elevate mass slaughter to a position somewhere way above reproach. That argument allows us to scoff our way through life, entirely missing the point.
But it’s not all our fault. Even the coolest farmers keep most of the gory details to themselves so that we keep salivating, eating and buying.
Outwardly they present the bucolic idyll – all wicker baskets, rare flowers, meadows, and begrudging public footpaths. But amongst themselves the terminology is geared towards profits, deadstock, live auctions, antibiotics, badger culling, government subsidies and cull lists.
Raising live animals for their meat or milk – or as it turns out, both – makes people into monsters. If you want proof, read any online forum where farmers discuss everyday problems. The doublethink is eye-watering.
Sheep Don’t Fight Back
In the quotation below, a farmer describes her sheep accurately as “defenceless” in the face of being being ripped apart by dogs. But she will despatch these defenceless animals to the slaughterhouse where their placid dispositions will work in her favour. In which universe does her statement below make logical sense. Either she wishes they could defend themselves, or she doesn’t.
These are defenseless animals that cannot protect themselves and who scare easily. They don’t deserve this abuse.Sheep farmer who believes her sheep were killed by domestic dogs (warning – graphic content)
In the article, I imagine, she meant to say that she prefers it when she gets to kill the sheep. Her complaint against the dogs has nothing to do with the sheep’s inability to defend themselves which, let’s face it, is why she keeps them in the first place. So why does she mention it? It’s just an example of farmer propaganda for beginners.
Defencelessness is a characteristic of sheep that this farmer relies on. It’s why she farms sheep in preference to say, boa constrictors or box jellyfish.
Why don’t farmers come clean and tell us the whole ghastly story? Instead they maintain a system of half-truths, and sliding doors, with help from the supermarkets. Look at the photo below. I took it in Sainsburys. It’s an example of how the healthy, happy young animal, just dying to die story, is given a bit more momentum.
What kind of person sends animals they purport to love, to a slaughterhouse? Ask an ex-slaughterhouse worker what he thinks of the process.
And think about this, as you’re tucking into a roast: you didn’t hear the tortured screams of those animals. You didn’t see them fight with every ounce of their strength to stay alive. You didn’t clean their blood from the factory floor.Ex-Slaughterhouse worker describing the defenceless animals he has killed.
Adults pass their disconnect with animals onto each next generation, as surely as they pass on diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Children breakfast and dine on anguish, terror and betrayal, as if swallowing it with a decisive gulp, will ensure it never revisits them. But the children will experience the return of all that negative energy, later in life, in the form of chronic disease. It will return with compound interest.
Try The Cow Ignorance Test
Find out if people you know the basics about the animals they routinely consume. Ask everyone you can, “where does milk comes from?” When they say “cows”, ask them “how do cows get milk?”
When they say “from eating grass”, ask them “what would happen to cows if we didn’t milk them?” When they say, “their udders would explode”, you can explain that cows, like humans, only produce milk as a response to pregnancy.
Then you can explain that the dairy industry can’t wait around for a bull to impregnate every cow at his leisure. We’d never be able to appropriate enough milk that way. So instead, bulls are manually masterbated to collect their sperm.
Cows are then industrially inseminated on a rape rack (their term) – routinely – to keep them pregnant. This is so they will produce milk for their calves, that we can steal to put on people’s cornflakes. You can tell them that this is barbaric.
Any calves born from this process will either be killed for meat, thrown into a pit to rot, or if female, forced to endure miserable lives when they too join the milk production line, like their mothers before them.
Once they enter this cycle of abuse, their lives hang in the balance should teats become too large, too long or too inflexible due to breeding or overuse. A cow whose teats don’t fit a standard will be added to the cull. Goodbye dairy cow with the sub-par teats . Hello cheap mince (ground beef).
Assuming their teats are the right shape and behave properly, (where have you heard that before), by the age of 5 they will be burned out, having been made pregnant their entire adult lives. Then, despite their valiant service to humankind, they’ll be sent to slaughter for cheap mince, anyway.
What Is A Rape Rack?
I couldn’t find a nice video of cows being inseminated. So here instead is a video showing the insemination of sheep. The violation is clear.
Take a look at this footage (nothing upsetting happens), and ask how, something this contrived and inhumane, was allowed to become the norm. When we see an animal in a field, most of us are clueless about their lives before, and after, their brief appearance within our line of sight.
We care so little about them, yet we’re happy to pore over cook books for this or that stroganoff and impress our friends with these or those putrid meatballs, in special serial killer sauce.
How does this insemination video make you feel. Do watch it – it contains no gore and is purely educational. I hate it. No person or animal should be tied up like this and used in this way. The process has an air of depravity about it, don’t you think?