Anonymous asked in Food & DrinkVegetarian & Vegan · 7 years ago

To produce milk an animal has to be pregnant,what happens to all the calfs? Are they slaughtered?

Hey folks :3

I'm 17 and at the moment I only eat chicken and fish but very soon I hope to give up chicken all together and then later on maybe fish as well :3 But anyway I don't want to buy any foods that are involved in animal suffering...I mean the cow has to be pregnant to produce milk and then what happens to the calves? Does the cow have to become pregnant all the time to keep producing milk until she no longer can? Do all the calves get slaughtered for veal?

So is milk involved in animal suffering??


Also would drinking goats milk be okay? Do they suffer in any way?

Thanks to all who answer! :3

16 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favourite answer

    After taken from their mother at just a few hours old, female calves are fed with a milk replacer by a machine. When they are old enough to be impregnated and begin producing milk they meet the same fate as their mother. Male calves are useless to the milk industry so they are either shot at birth or sold at auction for veal. The majority of male calves meet this fate of becoming veal. They are placed in small, narrow crates so they are immobile and tender for human consumption, for a few months they are fed a liquid that is purposely lacking in iron so their meat will remain, tender and white, they are eventually slaughtered at a few months old for veal.

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  • Bec
    Lv 7
    7 years ago


    Any animal product involves animals and suffering.

    The female cows get pregnant (to produce milk), then have their milked used. The calves (female) will then go on to be bred for further milk production. The majority of the male calfs will be slaughtered - some will be saved as bulls ready for breeding (obviously because you need a bull and a cow)

    I would assume in any large production all milk would be much the same - purely because it is uunrealisitc to expect that every single baby animal (calf, kid etc) is kept alive - we would be overrun with cows!. So the "spares" will be killed.

    Chickens and eggs are also much the same (in large factory quantities).

    Unless you live on a farm or know someone who does, if you don't eat meat for ethical reasons, really you should give up ALL animal products. With small family run farms you are able to see the treatment of animals and have some input into how they are treated and used (e.g using the cows milk for yourself but still leaving enough for baby cow). Using some eggs but letting others hatch to keep the cycle going

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  • 7 years ago

    The problem with a lot of industries its lost its personal touch, too commercialised. It would be nice if you drank a glass a milk that you knew exactly what farm it came from, you can get this but its hard to find and more expensive for obvious reasons.

    I am a dairy assistant, our milk gets mixed with everyone else's milk but I know the ethics of my farm and its one of the best.

    What happens to some of the calves is a percentage of cows would have been impregnated with producing calves for keeping hoping the majority is female.

    The bulls either get kept till they reach a weight for slaughter either for home use or mostly for fast food market.

    Smaller cows and first starters get natural breeding with a bull and the calves will be small so not to give the cow any troubles.

    These smaller and different breed calves will all go to slaughter as veal.

    We look after all out animals but I think female workers like myself are natural at giving that extra care and attention.

    I don't drink dairy, I actually drink almond milk and gluten free, weird I know but I love working with animals and its hard work.

    People who say its all about abuse and profit, there is no profit in abuse. Cows are better healthier and happier, they are happy because the shed is quite, they don't poo so much and they stand their chewing the cud which they would not if stressed.

    Please support better farming methods by buying organic and free range, don't listen to those who say it does not exist. Unfortunately being veg/vegan does not support better methods of rearing, they just want farming stopped and get rid of all animals from farming, pets to zoos.


    Sorry to add the calves are given 24hrs or more with the calves and the reared calves get milk from the cows and hard feed.

    Bare in mind every farm is different, there are small farms and house hold cows that keep their calves until they are weaned and likely reared to be beef or next generation.


    Like people some who are old are still sprightly while those who are young can act so old its the same with cows. We have some cows as old as 13 and still going strong, the cows would be culled if there is something seriously wrong with them as they are strong animals.

    Fake milk is expensive and it would be stupid expense to use it over milk they have to hand. Only home rearers use powder milk to fatten the calf up for house beef.

    This information is based on partly UK and NZ.


    Lynn - your answer is a tad off as well, not all females are kept reasons I have mentioned on my answer.

    As some farms shoot everything others sell there calves on.

    Source(s): Dairy farmer assistant
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  • ?
    Lv 6
    7 years ago

    I'm really quite astonished at some of those answers. Some of the information is right - some waaaay off.

    When a cow delivers a calf, if it's a female, it will be kept to eventually become the next generation of the herd. Her mother gets used up (normally at 5 - 7, which is about a quarter of a normal lifespan for a cow) and she's sent to slaughter so there's a fairly high need for the females due to the turnover.

    If it's a male, then it's usually shot immediately. Dairy breeds are not bred to put on meat quickly (more concerned with milk yields than muscle/fat ratios) and it's uneconomical for a farmer to keep them. It costs more to keep and feed them than he'll ever get for the animal when it's sent to market. Very few are kept for veal.

    @James : "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

    -- Abraham Lincoln

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  • Ducky
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    I'm sorry to say that generally speaking calves are sent off to slaughter. The mothers are sent to slaughter too after they no longer produce milk (this is generally at the age of 4 despite the fact that cows can live to be up to 20!).

    There is no dairy industry that does not partake in this practice so the best way to help, without fully going vegan, is to simply reduce the amount of dairy you eat/drink during the day. For example, one day a week you could try and go dairyless, or simply drink/eat one less serving of dairy a day.

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  • Daisy
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Dairy cows don't give milk until they have a calf. Like other mammals (wolf, fox, human) they produce milk to feed their babies. Since research at various universities (Perdue, Iowa State) has shown it's less stressful on the cow to remove the calf immediately, most dairy farms take the calf and do not allow her to bond. The calf will be raised on a bottle until old enough to graze. Then the males are sold to be raised as beef; the females will be used as dairy cows.

    In the US, virtually every cow born, dairy or beef, will end up in a slaughterhouse.

    Nothing/no one (including you) gets out of this world without some suffering. Dairy cows are generally well cared for. They are fed high quality food every day..unlike beef cattle that have to walk miles every day to graze and water.

    Here in the US goat milk production is very small. I think you'd have to find someone who actually sells it to get much information.

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  • 7 years ago

    It depends on tr farm. Most hand feed the calves with powdered milk with some other stuff mixed in while others slaughter them or

    just leave them to starve. All in all though the calves and cows do go through suffering as pair are separated really early on.

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  • Female calves typically are raised to become dairy cows just like their mothers. Male calves are slaughtered at birth, raised for veal, or sometimes sent to feedlots to become beef.

    I don't know for certain about goats and sheep, but I would imagine the males are killed at birth since they don't produce milk.

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  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    google "bobby calves". it's a horrifying reality what goes on on dairy farms. and yes, the cow keeps being impregnated yearly and being milked all along until she is spent, usually at 5-7 years, often when she has become so weak she can hardly stand up, or the milk she produces is no longer enough and she is sent off for slaughter. If she's pregnant at the time, the calve's skin becomes suede and their stomach lining is used for some cheeses. Not all the calves become veal. Some are kept and formula-fed and become dairy cows themselves. And yes, it is very traumatic for the cows to be separated from their mothers, be it to be slaughtered or kept as dairy cows. On some farms they don't send off the calves to become veal, they simply shoot them, or in the event they are disabled in some way or too weak (they like to induce the cows to give birth all at once on many farms, so many are born prematurely) it's legal for the farmer to kill them by jumping up and down on their rib cage until they die, or bash their heads with a hammer. Some farmers send the calves off to auction where they become veal, and the auction as well as transport is terrifying and traumatic for those calves.

    Why don't you just go vegan cold turkey? It makes it a lot easier as you just get used to it, instead of drawing it out and not getting used to any different flavors of vegan food. Fish and chicken are extreme in their cruelty, just as are eggs and dairy, and as far as fish are concerned there is the extremely pressing matter of ecological urgency presented by fishing methods and overfishing, not to mention tremendous suffering as well as by-catches and the fact many of these (such as turtles and some birds) are threatened and in danger of going extinct. And on top of that there are health issues. Eating flesh of any kind, be it fish, birds is hugely unhealthy.

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  • ?
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    A dairy cow does not need to be permanently pregnant to produce milk. Mammals lactate after the birth not during the pregnancy.

    The dairy farmer will keep his dairy herd in a cycle of breeding, calving and lactating. A cow will reach it's highest potential levels of milk production peak at c.40 - 60 days after calving.

    The cow is then bred again and her milk production levels will begin to drop. At c.305 days after calving, the cow is 'dried off', and milking ceases. About sixty days later, one year after the birth of her previous calf, a cow will calve again and the lactating cycle begins again.

    No, the cows do not suffer in any way. If the cows were living wild they would do exactly the same thing only the milk they produce would be drunk by their calves rather than collected for human consumption.

    It is inhumane NOT to milk a domesticated cow.

    (Goats don't suffer either)

    Source(s): 1st job was on a dairy farm
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