What’s up with dairy products? Most consumers don’t give much thought to how milk got there. They buy it at the supermarket. Have you ever thought about the animal that produced the milk, cheese, or yogurt that you purchased?

It is obvious that milk comes from cows, but for them to produce it, they have to give birth to calves every year. The majority of calves are separated within 12 hours after delivery. What happens to the male calves, which are a byproduct of dairying and essentially a byproduct? What are the implications of a cow being pregnant, nursing, and milked continuously for several years on her health and welfare?

We are fortunate to have many more humane product options available for our intensively raised animals in Australia. There’s also a wide range of poultry, eggs, and pork that can be found at both major supermarkets and many independents. What about dairy?

Many dairy farmers are concerned about the welfare and health of their animals. The RSPCA speaks regularly with farmers who are doing wonderful things to improve animal welfare. For many years, Australian dairy and retail industry groups have welcomed the RSPCA’s input. This is important as it ensures animal welfare is always at the forefront.

There is still much work to do. There’s still a lot of work to be done. It is possible to improve the welfare of some of the tens of thousands of calves that are slaughtered every year by increasing their value and finding an alternative market.

RSPCA works closely with dairy farmers to achieve these goals, but it is ultimately up to the consumers. If we, as consumers, want a higher level of welfare, then we must say so. When it is done, we must support it and pay a fair cost for it. It’s not cheap to provide better animal welfare. We’ve seen that customers can make a difference by voting with their wallets for better interest.


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