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– Rosalie (Rose), editor, ICT (paper and website)

Here’s an ICT Animal Times op-ed for ya. (I’ve pretty much gone vegan this past year – feels good not to be responsible for the killing of an animal …) :

Knee-deep manure: Another reason to dump dairy

By Paula Moore

 If you’re reading this as you eat your morning cereal, now would be a good time to set down your spoon. PETA recently obtained video footage of lame and emaciated cows—one little more than a skeleton—trudging through a sludgy pool of their own liquefied manure at a North Carolina dairy farm. The farm’s waste pit had not been emptied for so long that excess waste was up to the animals’ knees. As the cows emerge from this cesspool on their way to the milking parlor, the manure hardens and dries on their legs and feet, resulting in sores and painful ulcers. It even splashes onto their udders just moments before they are milked.

 Still hungry? The disgusting conditions that PETA found on this farm are enough to turn anyone’s stomach—and prompt a switch to soy milk—but they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dairy-industry cruelty.

 During a previous investigation, PETA revealed that cows on a dairy farm in New York were jabbed and struck, even in the udder, with poles and canes. One farm manager repeatedly electro-shocked a cow on the face and jabbed another cow, who was unable to stand up, in the ribs with a screwdriver and used a skid steer to drag her 25 feet. Young calves bellowed and thrashed as workers burned their horn buds—without providing any pain relief—in order to stop their horns from growing.

 You’d never know that nearly all cows born on dairy farms have tissue that will develop into horns if given the chance. That’s because workers press searing-hot irons into the top of calves’ heads to destroy horn tissue or use sharp instruments or other tools to saw off, gouge out or cut out the horn and sometimes the surrounding tissue. Cows struggle desperately and cry out in pain during these procedures, which are routinely performed without giving them any anesthetics or painkillers.

 And many consumers don’t even know (probably because they’ve never really thought about it) that cows produce milk for the same reason why human mothers do: to feed their babies. On dairy farms, cows are repeatedly impregnated and then forced to watch helplessly as their babies—whom they carry for nine months, just like us—are torn away from them again and again.

 Mother cows, who are smart, inquisitive animals and whose maternal instinct is just as strong as our human one is, grieve the loss of their calves and bellow plaintively after them for days. Some mother cows have been known to escape their enclosures and walk for miles searching for their calves. Such pitiful scenes are common in the dairy industry. Mother cows are allowed to bond with and care for their babies for just a few hours before they are dragged away so that humans can consume the milk that was meant for them.

 And what happens to the calves? Many male calves are shoved into tiny veal crates (so if you drink milk, you’re also supporting the cruel veal industry), while most female calves are destined for the same fate as their mothers: repeated artificial insemination and pregnancies until their bodies give out at 4 or 5 years of age. Then they’re trucked to the slaughterhouse, far short of their 25-year natural life expectancy, and ground up for burgers and dog food.

 If you find such cruelty hard to swallow, maybe it’s time to think twice before buying another carton of milk or tub of yogurt. Dairy-free (and cruelty-free) options such as almond milk and soy milk; vegan cheese and sour cream; coconut-milk coffee creamer; and ice cream made out of rice, soy or coconut are available in almost any grocery store. Why not try them?