Animal Profile: Caring About Calves


December 17, 2012

Care of Bonnie Shulman


Baby cows can do the most extraordinary things. Take Durham, a hungry yet underweight calf living on a farm in England. He was given second helpings every day to help him put on more weight. Durham learned to recognize the different people on the farm; so that when he wanted a third helping, he never asked the person who had fed him, but someone else instead, putting on an extravagant show to pretend he hadn’t been fed yet that day.

Calves are cute, mischievous, and they love their moms. They like to play with the other calves and in these respects they are very much like human children.

Unfortunately, on dairy farms the bonds between calves and their mothers are broken far too early. Male calves are the unwanted by-products of the dairy industry. Most male dairy calves are either slaughtered as soon as they are born or simply heaped in a pile and discarded as trash.

Some farmers sell their unwanted male calves to be raised for beef or veal. Beef calves undergo a multitude of invasive and often very painful procedures, in most cases without an anesthetic, to keep costs down. Veal calves are denied dietary iron and become anemic. They are solitary confined to wooden crates and may not be able turn around or adopt a normal sleeping position.

But there is good news! Awareness is growing about the fate of baby cows tossed aside on dairy farms, and people who wish to turn away from dairy have a multitude of nondairy cheese, milk, yogurt and ice cream products on the market. The list grows daily as new products are added to meet the growing demand for compassionate food choices. Check out for alternatives. Food tastes better when you know that no babies were harmed in the making of it.

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