Withholding food from bobby calves

January 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm (Diary of a Dairy Addict) (, )

Yes, another dairy post. It’s been long overdue. If anyone is interested – I finished October without any further dairy incidents. I’ve largely stuck with being dairy-free since. I was on holiday in New Zealand for a few weeks and relaxed my expectations of myself, which was just as well because at times there was no way to entirely avoid it (I’m looking at you Interislander Ferry).

I would like to take this opportunity to give a particular shout-out to Fidel’s in Wellington – not only are they the perfect place for second breakfast, but they were the only place in New Zealand to be pro-active in their catering to dietary needs. I mean, they have a flexible menu and some yummy home-baked vegan goodies like all good cafes should, but when ordering their cooked breakfast with no butter on the toast and a soy coffee the staff actually clarified that I was after a dairy-free meal, advised that the sausage in the breakfast has cheese in it, and substituted it for one that didn’t. Bravo!

Anyway, it’s now a new year and the news hitting nerves and angering animal welfare supporters is that Dairy Australia is looking to adopt the standard that:

bobby calves must “be slaughtered or fed within 30 hours from last feed.”

This is the result of study conducted by the University of Melbourne and the Animal Welfare Science Centre (funded by Dairy Australia and the government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) that ‘measured a range of blood biochemical variables in the calves, and the authors concluded that food withdrawal for up to 30 hours and transport for up to 12 hours had no detrimental effects on the metabolism of healthy calves.’

Animals Australia says that Dairy Australia is legalising the ‘withholding of liquid food from these unwanted calves for the last 30 hours of their lives’. Dairy Australia says that the clause ‘will provide assurances … where currently there is no standard in place to ensure a maximum time off feed for bobby calves.’

As I read it, if/when the clause is added to the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Land Transport – bobby calves will legally be starved 30 hours prior to their untimely demise, which could well be a better deal than they are currently getting. That is how atrocious the dairy industry is – that this apparently repulsive standard might be an improvement.

If you’d like to protest the proposed new standard (perhaps propose that a higher standard is needed?), you can do so here.

If you’d like to read Dairy Australia’s side of the story, you can do so here. Be warned, it includes rather scary phrases like ‘The Australian dairy industry works across the supply chain to ensure that calves … are not thrown or dropped or struck in an unreasonable manner’ (my emphasis).

If you know why the practice of withholding food from bobby calves is in place, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with P!nk’s latest dig at the dairy industry (among other things):

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