What You Need to Know About Humane Dairy
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from All-Creatures.org

All of God's creatures have rights, a fact that most people don't seem to recognize. This includes both human and non-human animals, but not all of them can speak for themselves. As we continue to disregard the value of the lives of the billions of animals we eat, we also are destroying our air, land and water.


Ashley Capps, HumaneFacts.org
August 2015

She goes on: “I want to make this clear from the start– I DO NOT kill, slaughter, butcher or murder my calves…they are HARVESTED. Just like other farmers, I’m raising a crop destined to provide sustenance for human consumers.”

As the general public becomes increasingly aware of the horrific conditions on factory farm dairies, more and more consumers are turning to so-called “humane” dairy labels. While some of these labels do ensure marginally more protections to cows exploited for their mothers’ milk (for example, not having their tails chopped off without pain-killer), it’s important to understand that even humane label dairy production depends, at its core, on the exploitation of female reproduction, and the destruction of motherhood.

So-called humane dairy farming also involves the slaughter of male calves born on the farm. Since males cannot produce milk, and have not been selectively bred for competitive meat characteristics, they are considered more or less worthless without the veal market. Indeed, the veal industry would not exist without the dairy industry. I have spoken with dozens of dairy farmers certified by the most rigorous humane animal welfare labels in the U.S.: they all raise or sell their male calves for veal.

The sadistic practices of the veal industry are by now notorious: confining calves to crates or stalls so small they cannot even turn around; chaining them by the necks to further restrict their movement, as veal is prized for its tenderness (and thus the less exercise and muscle development, the better); feeding them iron-deficient formula in order to promote the anemic pale color traditionally cherished in veal. But on so-called humane or higher welfare veal farms, calves are often allowed to graze and, on the rare farm, even allowed to nurse from a “surrogate” mother; a cow specially kept to nurse all the forcibly orphaned calves.

no humane dairies
A newborn "dairy" calf.

Most, though, are fed by bottle and/or a modified “mommy bucket.” One celebrated “humane” veal farmer writes:

There is another reason I choose to use bottles for the first 2-4 weeks— the calves will become extremely tame and follow your wiggling fingers, making them much easier to lead as they grow larger. Calves will willingly jump on to a stock trailer at the sight of a bottle or mommy bucket… Because of this practice, I have been loading my calves by myself for years now when it’s time to harvest them.

Harvest? You read that right. She goes on: “I want to make this clear from the start– I DO NOT kill, slaughter, butcher or murder my calves…they are HARVESTED. Just like other farmers, I’m raising a crop destined to provide sustenance for human consumers.”

After two to four months of a blissful, motherless existence, the calves— er, the crop— are “humanely harvested” for “rose veal” or “pastured, suckling veal.” That waterfall sound at 1:09 in the video above? It’s the sound of life pouring out of a humanely stabbed calf.

Forcibly impregnating other animals and stealing/killing their babies in order to take the mothers’ milk intended for them can only be called humane in a state of willed delusion. Please learn more about practices on so-called humane dairies here.

Ashley Capps received an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first book of poems is Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields. The recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, she works as a writer, editor and researcher specializing in farmed animal welfare and vegan advocacy. Ashley has written for numerous animal rights organizations, and in addition to her ongoing work for A Well-Fed World, she is a writer and editor at Free from Harm. She also teaches writing workshops. For more information, visit her website.

Return to The Meat and Diary Industries

Animal Slaughter Kill Counter:

Number of animals killed in the world by the fishing, meat, dairy and egg industries, since you opened this webpage.

0 marine animals
0 chickens
0 ducks
0 pigs
0 rabbits
0 turkeys
0 geese
0 sheep
0 goats
0 cows / calves
0 rodents
0 pigeons/other birds
0 buffaloes
0 dogs
0 cats
0 horses
0 donkeys and mules
0 camels / camelids