A new survey has exposed how little awareness the general public has of dairy industry practices, with only half the NZ population aware that a cow needs to have a calf each year to produce milk.
To attempt to counteract this, SAFE has erected a giant, thought-provoking billboard in the Auckland CBD with a cow and her newborn calf pictured together with the message, ‘Their first and last day together’.
The text goes on to explain that, ‘She was taken for milking. He was taken for slaughter’. The campaign is accompanied by a thought-provoking video.
In the October Horizon Research survey it was revealed 50 per cent of people either thought it was false or did not know that a cow needs to give birth each year to produce milk.
On top of this more than 80 per cent of the public vastly underestimate the number of bobby calves killed per year.
There is also widespread condemnation of the killing of bobby calves soon after birth, with 60 per cent of people feeling it is not acceptable.
When asked how much trust and confidence they had in the dairy industry to ensure bobby calves are treated humanely, 47 per cent were unconfident.
“What came through strongly in the research was how misinformed Kiwis are about the truth of dairy production, something that is certainly not being given to them by Fonterra’s advertising campaigns,” says campaigns director Mandy Carter.
It is standard practice for calves to be taken from their mothers soon after birth so that their mothers’ milk can be sold, says Mandy.
While some calves are transitioned into use for dairy and some to grow for beef or veal, vast numbers of these babies are killed at approximately 4 days old.
Slaughter statistics show up to a reported two million calves are killed annually in New Zealand as an unwanted by-product of the dairy industry.
Dairy sources also suggest up to a million calves could be killed on farms as well.
“The grim reality of the dairy industry is that cows must repeatedly be made pregnant to keep producing milk, with many of their babies disposed of as an inconvenient waste product,” says Mandy.
She says over the last two years, there has been widespread public outrage at the brutal treatment of bobby calves exposed during investigations, with the issue attracting attention globally.
“Our investigations have shone the light on animal suffering within the NZ dairy industry. The industry has been in damage control mode ever since; pouring money into blanketing media channels,” she says. “We are showing the stark truth: that there is cruelty in every glass of milk.
“Despite regulations imposed this year touted as helping to prevent suffering of bobby calves, these vulnerable young animals will continue to go for slaughter. No matter what regulations are put in place, the suffering from separating cows from their babies will continue; those babies ending up dead.
“Sadly, there is no such thing as cruelty-free cow’s milk. We’d encourage caring Kiwis to try plant-based milks,” added Mandy.
SAFE is now urging people to make the compassionate choice by choosing dairy-free. A dairy-free pledge is available on their website.