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Done with Dairy

Done with Dairy

For too long, mother cows and their babies have suffered at the hands of an industry which views them as little more than production units or waste products. Many people don’t realise that cows must give birth in order to produce milk, and one of the dairy industry’s darkest secrets is what happens to those newborn calves. 

SAFE is empowering New Zealanders to change the way we look at dairy. For the sake of our health, our environment, and for the millions of cows negatively impacted by the dairy industry, we must pave the way for a kinder and more sustainable future.   

Stand with SAFE, mother cows and their babies by telling the world you’re Done with Dairy. 

The dairy industry

In 2021, nearly 5 million cows were farmed for their milk in New Zealand, over 4.5 million of whom gave birth to calves who were taken away within days of being born. The milk which would normally nourish and sustain their calves is instead taken to be consumed by humans. Female calves are raised by humans to one day replace their mothers in the milking shed, while male calves are often killed within a few days of being born, considered ‘waste products’ of the dairy industry.

Mother cows are not machines

Like humans, a mother cow will carry her pregnancy for nine months. She will love, nurture, nurse, and protect her calf until the day comes when her calf is no longer a baby, but a young adult who is old enough to care for themselves and begin a life of their own. Sadly, this otherwise unbreakable mother-child bond means nothing to the dairy industry.

Every year in Aotearoa, millions of mother cows helplessly watch as their newborns are taken away from them so that their breast milk can be harvested for human consumption.

This cycle of abuse only ends for mother cows when they are no longer able to pump enough breast milk to be profitable to the dairy industry. After 5-6 years of being impregnated, giving birth and being milked, mother cows will be sent to slaughter.

Male calves are not ‘waste products’

Around 2 million male calves, also known as ‘bobby calves’, are taken from their mothers and killed shortly after birth every year in Aotearoa. Because bobby calves are male and can’t be used for milking, the industry has no economic incentive to raise them. Male calves are deemed useless byproducts of the dairy industry, rather than the sentient individuals they are.

Some will be sent to slaughter four days after being born while others will be shot on the farm within just 24 hours of life, all so the dairy industry can take the milk that was meant for him to sell for human consumption.

Dairy is destroying our environment

Animals aren’t the only casualties of the dairy industry. The pollution caused by industrial dairy farming is severely impacting our environment. The dairy industry is New Zealand biggest climate polluter, generating more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transport sector. In the last 30 years alone, the industry’s total emissions have risen 132%.

The dairy industry is also the largest source of water pollution and a major stressor on biodiversity and soil health. Run-off from dairy farms and synthetic fertiliser is poisoning our rivers, lakes and even our drinking water. As a result, 82% of waterways in farming areas are unfit for swimming and up to 800,000 kiwis may be at a greater risk of bowel cancer due to nitrates in water.

Dairy and your health

There is a growing body of evidence that links dairy consumption to many chronic diseases including diabetes, obesity, and cancer. According to Dr Neil Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, taking dairy off your plate can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and cut the chances of being diagnosed with certain cancers by more than 70%.

Mammals produce breastmilk to feed their infants until they are weaned onto solids. Humans are the only animals that consume milk from another lactating species throughout their lifetime. After infancy, most of us lose the ability to produce the enzymes that break down lactose, which explains why so many people experience bloating, discomfort and an upset stomach after consuming dairy.

Calcium, protein and iron are abundant in plants. It's easy to nourish your body with plants once you know how!

Dairy is not our future

It’s only a matter of time before Aotearoa can no longer sustain the continuous water pollution, soil damage and high greenhouse gas emissions the dairy industry creates. To protect the animals, our environment and our health; Aotearoa must embrace a future where its primary industries do not rely on the exploitation of our precious land and our animals for profit.

Our farmers are facing massive amounts of debt, increasing public scrutiny and a lack of industry leadership. Animal-free alternatives are shown to require up to 99% less water, produce 97% less greenhouse gas emissions, and requires no animal exploitation.

Governments around the world are recognising the harm dairy creates and are setting plans in place to assist farmers in transitioning away from animal agriculture. Now is the time for Kiwis to hold the New Zealand Government to account for failing to do the same. Our future depends on it.

You can help create change for cows

Give a gift today to SAFE’s ambitious campaign to lift the lid on the New Zealand dairy industry. Your gift will help SAFE call for lasting change for vulnerable animals being exploited in one of our biggest sectors.

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As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.