2014 Figures In: Two Million Dairy Calves Slaughtered As Waste Products

Most of us are completely unaware that every year a huge number of unwanted calves from the dairy industry go straight to the slaughterhouse at only four days old. These vulnerable young animals are known as bobby calves, taken from their mothers and discarded as waste products - killed so humans can drink milk. According to new figures just released, the 2014 figure for bobby calves slaughtered was just over two million.

5.09 million calves total were born in New Zealand this year. All of them are separated from their grieving mothers. Many of them will have gone on to be raised for beef or veal, or to be kept as replacements for their mothers in the herd, but countless numbers of them, considered a by-product of dairy, are discarded.

Industry insiders say that fewer female calves were kept by farmers this year because of this season's lower milk price forecast. Bobby calves are most often male.

SAFE believes the fate of the calves born to dairy cows is one of the dairy industry's dirty secrets. Farmers leave the bobby calves on the roadside in a cage to be picked up by the slaughterhouse workers.

“The calves are put out to be collected like a piece of rubbish. It’s appalling the way calves and their mothers are treated just for the sake of dairy – that we have so little regard for life,” says SAFE head of campaigns Mandy Carter. “The industry gets away with this because most people aren’t even aware that for cows to produce milk, calves have to be born. Even fewer know about the millions of calves that are so callously discarded by the dairy industry.”

Earlier this year the bashing of calves to death on farms was made illegal. Although it was a step forward in terms of welfare, many continue to suffer because of our insatiable appetite for dairy.

Find out more about the dairy industry and how cutting out milk can help cows and calves and how New Zealand’s economy isn’t as dependent on dairy as many think.

26 November 2014.