Cruelty to Cows: How Cows Are Abused for Meat and Dairy Products

Cows are gentle giants—large in size but sweet in nature. Curious and clever, they have been known to go to extraordinary lengths to escape from slaughterhouses. These nurturing animals form lifelong friendships with one another and have a wide range of emotions and personality traits.

The Cruel Cow-Flesh Industry

Like all animals, cows value their lives and don’t want to die. Every year in Asia, approximately 90 million of these sensitive, smart, and social animals are slaughtered for the meat industry alone.

When they are still very young, cows are burned with hot irons (branded), their horns are cut or burned off, and males have their testicles ripped out (castrated). Many are sent to filthy holding pens called “feedlots,” where they are crammed together by the thousands and fed an unnatural diet to fatten them up before slaughter. Cows raised for food are regularly dosed with drugs such as antibiotics to make them grow faster and keep them alive long enough to make it to the slaughterhouse.

Abusing Mothers for Milk

Most cows raised for the dairy industry are intensively confined, leaving them unable to fulfill their most basic desires, such as nursing their calves, even for a single day. They are treated like milk-producing machines and are genetically manipulated and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones.

Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their young. In order to force them to continue giving milk, they are repeatedly impregnated, typically using artificial insemination.

A female cow’s natural life span is around 20 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are killed after only five or six years. At this point, their exhausted bodies can no longer produce milk and they are sent to slaughter.

The Mother-Baby Bond

Without human intervention, mothers nurse their calves for nearly a year. But calves born on dairy farms are usually taken from their mothers on the day that they are born. The mother-calf bond is so strong that cows have been known to escape enclosures and travel for kilometers to reunite with their young.

Female calves are sentenced to the same mutilation and misery involved in milk production as their mothers are, and the males are used for veal or sent to feedlots where they will be fattened for beef.

Babies Behind Bars: The Veal Connection

Male calves are “coproducts” of the dairy industry. Those used for veal are kept in tiny individual crates, where they are almost completely immobilized and fed a liquid diet of little nutritive value. Frightened, sick, and alone, these calves are killed after only a few months so that their flesh can be sold as veal.

Bloody Business: Turning Cows Into Burgers

All cows, whether they’re raised for their flesh or their milk, are eventually shipped to a slaughterhouse and killed. Those who survive the journey are shot in the head with a captive-bolt gun and taken onto the killing floor, where their throats are cut and they are skinned and gutted. Many cows are completely conscious throughout the entire process.

Save Cows at Every Meal

Help put an end to this cruelty by going vegan. For great tips, dairy alternatives, and free recipes to help you make the transition, take the vegan pledge. If you’re in the Philippines, order PETA’s free vegetarian/vegan starter kit today!