Recent media releases have brought to light the atrocities that Australian cows are subjected to on the typical Australian dairy farm.
If you haven't heard about the cruel fate of bobby calves, or the painful procedures such as dehorning and tail docking executed without anaesthesia, check out the Animals Australia Fact Sheet or RSPCA's website information.
A dehorned dairy cow. Image courtesy of wikipedia.org
Ignorance or inattention is a poor excuse for continuing to purchase eggs and dairy that have been farmed under questionable standards. If you think you're doing your bit by buying eggs that are 'free range' or 'cage free', think again - labeling laws in Australia are loose to say the least - do you actually know what sort of life 'cage free' chickens have?
We can choose to buy ethical dairy. What moral principles and standards will you set for yourself when it comes to the life of an animal that supplies your food? Will you actively seek and purchase dairy foods that are humanely produced? Or will you support commercial factory farms where egg-laying hens suffer over-crowding, living on top of their own faeces; where the calves are taken from their mothers the same day they're born - the majority of them slaughtered a few days later, the mothers repeatedly artificially inseminated, hooked up to milking machines several times a day, fed hormonal growth promotants and an unnatural diet of all grains, live in overcrowded conditions and have their lives cut short by up to twenty years?
Do these cows look happy? Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/freedigitalphotos.net
It may sound extreme or like a gross exaggeration but dairy foods were not immune to industrialisation and mass production; sadly the dairy cows and chickens have been caught in the crossfire.
There are some ethical dairy farmers out there, do yourself and the animals a favour and find out which ones they are - here's some tips to get started:
Surf the web for dairy farm websites which often provide ethical statements, and if there isn't enough information on the website contact them directly.
Talk to someone in the know at your local health food store.
Ask market vendors about their farming practices.
Take a tour of your local dairy farm.
Cows are happy on a natural diet of grass and hay. Image courtesy of digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net
Healthy Hints can recommend the following dairy producers: Elgaar Farm (Tasmania), True Organic (Victorian organic dairy farmers cooperative), B.-d. Farm Paris Creek (South Australia) and Barambah Organics. If you can recommend an ethical dairy producer, please let our readers know by leaving a message in the Comments section.