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Cows Used for Food

In the U.S., more than 42 million cows suffer and die for the meat and dairy industries every year. When they are still very young, many cows are burned with hot irons (branded), their horns are gouged out or cut or burned off, and male cattle have their testicles ripped out of their scrotums (castrated)—all without painkillers.

Once they have grown large enough, they are sent to massive, filthy feedlots that are exposed to the elements, where they are to be fattened for slaughter. Cows on dairy farms are repeatedly impregnated and then traumatically separated from their newborn calves until finally their bodies wear out and they are sent to be killed.

Like all animals, cows form strong maternal bonds with their calves, and on dairy farms and cattle ranches, mother cows can be heard frantically crying out for their calves for several days after they have been separated.

Cows are gentle giants—large in size but sweet in nature. They are curious, clever animals who have been known to go to extraordinary lengths to escape from slaughterhouses. These very social animals prefer to spend their time together, and they form complex relationships, very much like dogs form packs.

Cattle are transported hundreds of miles in all weather extremes, typically without food or water, to the slaughterhouse. Many cows die on the way to slaughter, but those who survive are shot in the head with a captive-bolt gun, hung up by one leg, and taken onto the killing floor where their throats are cut and they are skinned and gutted. Some cows remain fully conscious throughout the entire process. In an interview with The Washington Post, one slaughterhouse worker said, “They die piece by piece.”

You can help put and end to this atrocity. Order PETA’s free vegan starter kit for tips and recipes to help you make the transition to a cruelty-free diet today.

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