Many people don’t realise that a dairy cow needs to give birth in order to produce milk. What her life is like, and what happens to her new-born calf, is one of the dairy industry’s darkest secrets. But investigations in 2015 and 2016 have exposed many of these issues.
Cows in New Zealand are primarily dairy cattle such as Holstein-Friesian, Holstein-Friesian Jersey crossbreeds, or Jersey breeds, that are farmed for their milk, or beef cattle such as Aberdeen Angus and Hereford breeds, as well as Friesian bulls born to dairy cows, that are farmed for meat . Welfare concerns relate to the intensification of farming, and to housing and management, physical problems, painful husbandry procedures, and the welfare of calves.
The dairy industry also has substantial adverse impacts on New Zealand’s environment, and is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, which substantially contribute to climate change. Consumption of dairy products can also raise health concerns.