I’m a slacking blogger of late, but for the 10 or so people who bother to read this blog, I thought I’d share something I learned today.
As animal rights activists, we end up learning a lot about the details of the practices of animal exploitation. There is a lot to know, and somehow we are required to be experts on a wide range of topics.
Terry and I were talking today about some of these details, and she mentioned something about veal cows that I didn’t know. I knew that male dairy cows are not seen outside of sanctuaries because they’re either killed at birth or allowed to live for 16 weeks before they’re killed for veal. I think we all know that. But a little detail that slipped by me, and I believe slips by most of us, is that it isn’t just the baby boys who are killed, it is the majority of the baby girls as well. Again, either at birth or for veal. I think it is a common misconception for us that it is only the baby males who are killed for veal.
It makes sense, once you think about it – it is all about numbers. The farmers have room for only a certain number of female cows, who have five or six years when they produce enough milk to satisfy the farmers, after which they’re sent to be turned into hamburgers. But during those five or six years they have a baby every year, for how else will they produce milk? Since only babies need to drink milk, mothers produce milk only as long as their offspring are babies. And so every year the farmers forcibly impregnate the cows they keep for milk. Yet only one “replacement” is needed by the farmer over the span of a dairy cow’s life, and so all of the rest of the babies will be killed at birth or at 16 weeks, regardless of whether it is a boy or a girl.
Perhaps this was more widely known than I think. I know for certain that I had it in my head that veal was specifically baby boy calves, so in case either of my readers were under the same misconception, well, now you know the truth. How important are these details? It is always hard to know, I suppose. Another interesting thing that Terry told me is that one of the details that seems to get to people when she is giving tours is that the babies are killed. Will that be universal? Again, it is hard to tell. The people who arrange to come to the sanctuary for tours might very well be a specific subset of the general population, more swayed by these heart-wrenching details.
But then, you never know quite who you’ll end up talking to when you’re leafleting or at the grocery store or wherever you are when you end up talking about these issues. And in case you’re talking to someone who you suspect would care about the baby cows, you’ll now be able to give them a more accurate picture. Assuming you’d been under the same misconception that I had been, that is.
Charlotte, for instance, was slated to be veal, but was lucky enough to be rescued instead.