At least 5 million cows raised for milk in the United States live on factory farms under conditions that cause them tremendous suffering. They do not graze contentedly in fields; they live in cramped, concrete-floored milking pens where they are milked by machines that often cause cuts and injuries that would not occur if people did the milking.
In addition, while many consumers have heard about the cruelty of the veal industry, most people don’t know that the dairy and veal industries are inextricably linked. Cows, like humans, only give milk after they’ve had a baby. Thus, in the eyes of the farmer, the cows’ offspring are simply a byproduct of this milk-production cycle. Perhaps the greatest pain suffered by cows in the dairy industry is the repeated loss of their young, which is quite traumatic to these extremely maternal animals. Female calves may join the ranks of the milk producers, but the males are generally taken from their mothers within 24 hours of birth and sold at auction either for the notorious veal industry or to beef producers.
Within 60 days, the cow will be impregnated again. For about seven months of her next nine-month pregnancy, the cow will continue to be milked for the fluid meant for her older calf—and this cycle is repeated until her milk production wanes, at which time she is sent to slaughter, most likely to be ground up into fast-food burgers. Calves will continue to suffer as long as there is a market for dairy products.