Dairy Scary?

I don’t know how much of our milk and cheese actually comes from industrial dairy farms like that shown in the picture above.

According to the RSPCA only around 8% of UK milk comes from cows “housed all year round regardless of milk yield, time of calving and so on”. The RSPCA has a lengthy document for farmers setting the RSPCA Welfare Standards for Dairy Cattle, and a shorter and less technical  The welfare of dairy cows information sheet – February 2017 (PDF 654KB) which very much reflects their concern for animal welfare.

Of course these documents are only advisory and again I’m not sure what proportion of our milk and diary products come from farms which follow them, though I suspect it is fairly high. It is very much in farmer’s interests to look after thier animals, and those farmers that I have know personally are very much concerned and involved with them.

I’d like to see welfare standards such as this being legally enforced rather than simply advisory. But to label the whole dairy industry as ‘Scary Dairy’ seems to me misleading. Some of the claims that Viva! and other vegans make simply make no sense; no cow produces enough calves to need the 14,000 pints of milk the average dairy cow provides each year, and there are certainly no calves starving from lack of milk.

Of course farm animals are slaughtered at some point. It is the nature of the beast; farmers breed them only for economic reasons, not to gratify animal lovers (except for those very few kept as pets. They only exist because they produce food and other animal products that farmers can sell. Of course we should have strict laws that eliminate unnecessary suffering governing how animals are killed and ensure that they are enforced.

I remain irredeemably ‘speciesist’. We are in so many respects different from all other species although of course we have much in common, including a high proportion of our DNA, having evolved over thousands and millions of years from other species (which have also evolved, but differently.)

I did my best to photograph the Viva! protest and to caption the images that I filed to represent their views, reporting as objectively as I could. Mostly I chose to photograph things that I view positively, but while I support better animal welfare I think that the approach taken in this campaign is highly emotional and both dishonest and disingenuous.

  There are a few more pictures at Viva! protest Coca-Cola Dairy Farm.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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