How do we really get milk?
For many people, dairy farming makes it look like small herds of cows grazing on open fields. Most milk is produced by cows raised in intensive production systems called factory farms. Some cows are housed indoors year-round, and lactating cows are often kept restrained tied up in stalls.
Although they don’t reach mature size until at least 4 years old, dairy cows first give birth at about 2 years of age and are usually bred again beginning at about 60 days after giving birth, to maintain a yearly schedule. 1 Each year, approximately one quarter of the cows who survive the farms are sent to slaughter, most often due to reproductive problems. Cows can live more than 20 years, however they’re usually slaughtered and used to produce ground beef at about 5 years of age.Most dairy calves are removed from their mothers immediately after birth. The males are mainly sold for veal or castrated and raised for beef. “Bob veal” calves are killed as soon as a few days after birth; those used to produce “special-fed veal” are typically kept tethered in individual stalls until slaughtered at about 16 to 20 weeks of age.Each year hundreds of thousands of these female calves die between 48 hours and 8 weeks of age because of digestive problems.