How Cows Suffer
Naturally cows would live in small herds with a hierarchy, friendships and complex social interactions. Each cow can recognise more than 100 members of the herd, and relationships are very important to them.
A cow's behavioural needs include hierarchical social organisation, leadership in a herd and grazing for about eight hours a day. At the most basic level, a cow also needs freedom of movement to stand, walk, lie down, feed, drink, and ruminate.
In a factory farm they are denied a number of these crucial needs. Cows show heightened levels of aggression and stress when kept indoors, with some subordinate cows even getting less to eat. Like other forms of factory farming, packing a barn full of cows to maximise profit does not end well for the cows.
Modern day dairy cows have been bred to produce unnaturally high volumes of milk. Rates of infection, especially the painful udder infection called mastitis, are high. In factory farms, this gets even worse. Countries that use indoor factory farms have mastitis rates as high as 40% according to research used by the government, well above the rates of cows kept outdoors. Studies of European farms employing factory farming methods have also documented increases in injury, lameness and abnormal movements due to limited space in intensive conditions.
Confining cows that are used to grazing on open pasture in small and overcrowded spaces is cruel and traumatic for these intelligent animals.