In order to keep producing milk for humans, dairy cows have to become pregnant and have calves. This is done forcibly, typically through artificial insemination.
Calves are generally taken away from their mothers within 24 hours of birth, causing immense distress for both mother and calf. Both usually cry out for each other as they are separated. The mother has to endure this happening 4 or 5 times before she is considered ‘spent’.
Males, who are of little use to the dairy industry, are either killed shortly after birth or sent away to be reared for veal, while females follow the fate of their mothers – milked continually throughout their lives.
As a result of unnaturally high milk yields, over a third of British dairy cows suffer from mastitis, a painful udder infection. In severe cases of the infection, the cows are killed. This happens in great numbers, as mastitis is the most common cause for 'premature culling' according to AHDB Dairy. Meanwhile, many suffer lameness due to their unnatural surroundings. They are generally kept indoors for at least half of the year.
Life expectancy of a dairy cow is less than a quarter of its natural lifespan; dairy cows are considered spent between 7 -8 years at which age they are slaughtered. If allowed to exist free of exploitation and slaughter, however, dairy cows can live 25 years or more.
Farms exist for profit, not to make sure the wants and needs of cattle are met. Even when welfare standards are higher than normal, cows and calves still have to endure eventual separation, are used and not respected, and they all die long before their time. Veganism is about neither using nor abusing non-humans, who all have a right to life and freedom. These animals cannot consent to being raised for milk and meat. Whatever conditions we keep them in, farming them is always an abuse of power.