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Remember mother cows this Mother’s Day with the Cow Ribbon Campaign!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

 

© Farm Sanctuary

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! We launched the Cow Ribbon campaign in 2010 to recognize the suffering of dairy cows. Dairy cows must endure a constant cycle of pregnancy and birth in order to maintain uninterrupted milk production. Unfortunately, dairy cows usually only get to be mothers for a matter of hours because their babies are taken away almost immediately after birth so people can drink the milk meant for their offspring. Just like humans, cows grieve the loss of their young.

In fact, the voice of their grief is so loud that it has been known to prompt worried neighbours to call the police in the middle of the night. Strange noises from near the Sunshine Dairy Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts, turned out to be the bellowing and cries of cows who had just lost their babies. Police reassured the public that this was just a normal part of farming practice. While it may be standard practice, cows have strong maternal bonds and their cries are a reflection of their distress.

As for the babies, they lose their mothers shortly after birth, eat formula instead of the milk intended for them, and spend their first few weeks of life isolated in calf hutches or pens. The pens are so small they can barely move around. The National Farm Animal Care Council’s Codes of Practice, after all, recommend a minimum of just 35.5 inches by 65 inches for these 200 pound animals.  Females will usually become dairy cows, while the males are kept for a few weeks until they are ready to be sold for veal.

While dairy cows and their babies suffer year-round, Mother’s Day is a great time to be reminded that cows are mothers too. Wear a cow ribbon, and join us in commemorating the lives of cows who suffer so much loss just for a glass of milk

 

Get your cow ribbon!
Volunteers working hard to assemble the ribbons!

 

 

Walk for Farm Animals: Michael the calf

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Since Liberation BC’s 7th annual Walk for Farm Animals to benefit Farm Sanctuary is coming up on October 5th–this weekend!–we’re introducing you to just a few of the some of the approximately 900 animals who live at Farm Sanctuary’s three shelters.  Are you ready for the Walk?  There’s still time to register and start fundraising!

This is part of a series of farm animal stories on our blog.

michael

Michael, shortly after his rescue. (Photo: Farm Sanctuary)

Michael was born on a small dairy farm.  We might like to imagine that small farms are somehow drastically different than large, industrial factory farms–and in some ways, they are–but not necessarily as much as we’d hope.  For example, even on the smallest, friendliest dairy farms, calves are a byproduct of an industry that requires constant pregnancy–and therefore, constant babies.  Most dairy calves have a miserable fate.  Females are sometimes kept to replace their mothers; despite the fact that cows can live 20 to 25 years, the turnover rate for the average dairy farm is shockingly high: in British Columbia, for example, cows are sent to slaughter at the age of 5. (Learn more.)  Male calves, meanwhile, are most often killed outright or sold at auction for veal.

Two weeks before, the farmer sent a group of calves to auction, yet she held one back. She liked something about this little calf and wasn’t ready to let him go. Eventually, however, she decided that she must. It is uncommon for a dairy farmer to keep a male calf, feeding and caring for him as he grows while gleaning no marketable product. When animals are seen as commodities, it becomes impractical to put their welfare first, and personal connection inevitably yields to the bottom line. (link)

The farmer eventually decided that Michael would have to go to auction like the others.  A trucker friend of hers, however, heard about the little calf’s predicament and began sending out messages, looking for somebody who might take him in.  Animal rescuer Mike Stura learned about him just in time, and he and his wife leapt into their truck and headed for the farm, still trying to get in touch with the farmer.

They were finally able to get the farmer’s contact details from the truck driver — and not a minute too soon. Stura pulled into the farmer’s driveway just as the auction truck arrived. He lifted the calf into his own truck and headed for our New York Shelter, arriving at night in the middle of a snowstorm. In honor of this valiant friend to animals, we named the new arrival Michael.

Michael frolicking at his new home at Farm Sanctuary's New York Shelter. (Photo: Farm Sanctuary)

Liberation BC is proud to support Farm Sanctuary by participating in the annual Walk for Farm Animals.  Won’t you join us?

July’s volunteer night

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

For July’s volunteer night, eight of us met up in downtown Vancouver to do some summer outreach in the sunshine.  Armed with our Eating the Planet and Dairy: What you need to know leaflets, our volunteers spread out and began to work their magic.

Almira

Almira explaining the realities of animal agriculture.

We started the evening with 1000 leaflets…

Sophie

Board member Sophie catching commuters.

…and ended with exactly zero!

John

John hard at work.

Another month, another night with the best volunteers anybody could ask for!  A big thank you to Almira, John, Louis, Miriam, and Wilson for coming out!

August’s volunteer night has not been scheduled yet, but you can get the most recent updates on what we’re up to by checking out our Events page or by signing up for our Action Alert emails.

Bizarre form of torture for dairy cows

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

On the heels of our Cow Ribbon campaign, comes this bizarre video from a company called AnimartInc. It features their device, the UdderSinge.  It’s pretty much what it sounds like, believe it or not:

Udder Singe uses a low temperature flame to remove hair from the udder and belly to aid in reducing mastitis incidences and somatic cell counts, thereby increasing milk quality.

Udder Singe is designed to remove hair quickly and painlessly, using a 6″ cool flame, eliminating the need to clip udders. The Udder Singe wand should be held about 2-4″ below the udder and belly to make a quick pass to singe off hair that can trap in mastitis and high somatic cell causing debris and bacteria. (link)

cow with swollen and distended udder

A dairy cow suffering from mastitis. (Photo: British Veterinary Association)

First off, yes, mastitis is a painful and potentially fatal disease.  Though not seen exclusively in the dairy industry (for example, human moms can get it too), it is incredibly common in dairy cows, who are exposed constantly to bacteria as a result of milking machines.  What the cheerful ad copy fails to communicate is the industry’s primary concern in regards to mastitis: it is an expensive disease.  The National Mastitis Council estimates that it costs farmers more than $200 per cow, and in Canada, it is the second most common reason for culling.  In the U.S., mastitis costs the industry between 1.7 and 2 billion dollars a year.  It’s no surprise that they’d be looking for a way to reduce it.

Back to the first part of the text, which claims that the flame is “painless”.  What an assertion!  Udders are sensitive and filled with pain receptors, and the idea that it doesn’t hurt to expose them to fire is absurd.  Some people shave–perhaps they should consider taking a low temperature torch to their faces, legs, etcetera.  Hey, apparently it’s painless!

You can watch a video of the UdderSinge in action here:

Freefromharm.org points out that though the video says that the audio is turned off because it’s used at trade shows–which I guess are held at places with no volume control?–it’s entirely possible that there’s no sound because it might reveal how the cows really feel about having their udders “passed over” with a butane torch.

Mother’s Day Cow Ribbon Event

Monday, May 20th, 2013
emilia face

That is one adorable calf. (Photo: John Federico)

On Mother’s Day 2013, we headed out to Georgia and Granville again to spread the word about the cruelty of the dairy industry.  (Check out our 2012 Mother’s Day event.)  We had our cow ribbons on hand for people to purchase.

You can still get your own cow ribbon here for a donation of $5!

This year, we had a special guest: Emilia and her mom, Fabiola, and dad, Trent.

Unlike calves in the dairy industry, little Emilia gets to stay with her loving parents.  Dairy cows lose their children year after year, one after another.  Male calves are raised as veal–an industry that began as a way to make some money off of all the extra calves created by the dairy industry.  Females are kept around and raised to be dairy cows themselves.  It’s a vicious, horrible cycle and one that too few people are aware of but many are grateful–and disgusted–to learn about.

sophie with cow

Richa (as the cow with the snazzy matching umbrella) and Sophie hand out leaflets.

calf

Emilia with her parents

The cool, rainy weather wasn’t the best of timing as it cut down dramatically on foot traffic, but with the help of our amazing volunteers, we still gave out so many leaflets that we totally depleted our supply.

That means that between our May volunteer night on the 8th and our leafleting on Mother’s Day, we gave out 1500 leaflets about the dairy industry!  Great job, guys!  If you’d like to distribute some of our leaflets yourself, you can download and print them here.

emilia, fabiola, cow

Emilia meets her much larger counterpart.

cow hug

Our cow makes friends wherever she goes!

emilia in stroller

Even animal heroes get sleepy sometimes.

Our gratitude goes out to the wonderful volunteers who came out on a rainy Sunday to make this a better world for all moms!

Cow Ribbon Campaign: Dylan’s Story

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

get your ribbonAs we approach Mother’s Day (May 12th), it’s time to spread the word about compassion for all mothers with our Cow Ribbon Campaign.  This is part five in a series of stories about mother cows and their babies. Have you gotten your cow ribbon yet?

But first, why wear a cow ribbon?  What do dairy cows have to do with Mother’s Day?

Sweet Dylan lives at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in New York now, but he was born on a dairy farm in 2005.  When he was discovered, he was tied to a post and lying in his own feces, a day away from being sent to auction as a veal calf.  This is the fate of most male calves born into the dairy industry, but Dylan was lucky: two caring people, concerned about the mistreatment of the newborn calves at the farm, talked the farmer into giving him up.

dylan calf

Dylan is just one of the countless male calves considered a nearly worthless byproduct in the dairy industry. (Photo: Derek Goodwin)

Dylan arrived at Woodstock just one week old, and though he was frightened at first, he very quickly became a fearless troublemaker, even following his caregivers into the house!

dylan with cake

One year and 800 pounds later, Dylan enjoys a birthday cake made of fruit, bread, and carrots. (Photo: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary)

This Mother’s Day, speak out for Dylan and all of the calves who never get a first birthday! You can get a cow ribbon of your own for a $5 donation.  As we learned last year from Our Henhouse’s Jasmin Singer, it can spark some really great conversations!

Want to spread the word online?  Check out these adorable e-cards and icons that you can use on Facebook or Twitter!

Cow Ribbon Campaign: the story of Freedom, Summer, and Sadie

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

get your ribbonTwo weeks left until Mother’s Day!  There’s still time to get your cow ribbon for a minimum donation of $5.  It’s time to spread the word about compassion for all mothers with our Cow Ribbon Campaign.  This is part four in a series of stories about mother cows and their babies. Have you gotten your cow ribbon yet?

But first, why wear a cow ribbon?  What do dairy cows have to do with Mother’s Day?

Freedom and Summer live at Animal Place Sanctuary in Grass Valley, California.  Like all male calves born into the dairy industry, they were close to worthless, and were sent to auction at only a few days old.

Freedom and Sadie

Freedom and Sadie

Most of the time, dairy calves and their mothers are separated within hours, never to see each other again.  The maternal instincts of cows are powerful–they will bellow and moan for days after their calves are taken from them–and the calves’ need for motherly love and guidance cannot be understated.  At Animal Place, Freedom and Summer found Sadie, a former dairy cow who had lost many babies to the industry and who now acts as an eager adoptive mom to any young calves entering the sanctuary.  The three bonded immediately, and even as Freedom and Summer approached adulthood, she continued to mother them.  Whenever she felt that they had gotten too far away, she would call them back, and they would “begrudgingly” return for a grooming!

summer and sadie

Sadie and Summer spending time together. (Photo: Animal Place)

Speak out for Freedom, Summer, and Sadie this Mother’s Day! You can get a cow ribbon of your own for a $5 donation.  As we learned last year from Our Henhouse’s Jasmin Singer, it can spark some really great conversations!

Want to spread the word online?  Check out these adorable e-cards and icons that you can use on Facebook or Twitter!

Next up: the story of

Cow Ribbon Campaign: the story of Alexander, Blitzen, and Lawrence

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

get your ribbonAs we approach Mother’s Day (May 12th), it’s time to spread the word about compassion for all mothers with our Cow Ribbon Campaign.  This is part three in a series of stories about mother cows and their babies. Have you gotten your cow ribbon yet?

But first, why wear a cow ribbon?  What do dairy cows have to do with Mother’s Day?

Alexander, Blitzen, and Lawrence were discovered at an auction for dairy calves by Susie Coston, National Shelter Director for Farm Sanctuary:

The newborns, some not even a day old yet, were visibly frenzied and could be heard bawling for their mothers…their terror was only met with frustration from the workers who forcefully unloaded and moved them into holding pens by hitting them with canes or shocking them with cattle prods.

 

The scene turned even grislier when she came across the poor babies who were obviously very ill. She found one – a little calf who couldn’t even stand – collapsed and left freezing in the less than 20 degree weather near a loading dock. The other two she would rescue that day were shoved into the auction ring when the sale began. One was so sick and weak that his legs kept buckling beneath him as workers prodded him to get him on his feet. The other, weighing only 37 pounds, was so small that the bidders made a joke of him – calling him “trash.” Treated with the same indifference as all the others, these little ones were only mocked in their distress and ultimately deemed as being worthless when they failed to sell for even $1.

All three calves needed intensive care for renal failure, pneumonia, cysts, and a host of other conditions brought on by neglect and a lack of basic medical treatment as well as the fact that they were denied their mothers’ colostrum. But now they will be taken care of for the rest of their lives.  Most are not so lucky.

Speak out for Alexander, Blitzen, Lawrence, and all the millions of nameless calves this Mother’s Day! You can get a cow ribbon of your own for a $5 donation.  As we learned last year from Our Henhouse’s Jasmin Singer, it can spark some really great conversations!

Want to spread the word online?  Check out these adorable e-cards and icons that you can use on Facebook or Twitter!

Next up: the story of Freedom, Summer, and Sadie.

Cow Ribbon Campaign: Maybelle’s Story

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

get your ribbonAs we approach Mother’s Day (May 12th), it’s time to spread the word about compassion for all mothers with our Cow Ribbon Campaign.  This is part two in a series of stories about mother cows and their babies. Have you gotten your cow ribbon yet?

But first, why wear a cow ribbon?  What do dairy cows have to do with Mother’s Day?

Maybelle lives at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in New York now, but her origin story is a bit unique as compared to most dairy cows.  She was born on a large-scale farm in Pennsylvania in 2005.  When she was three years old, however, she was transferred to a New York historical site where people dress in period costumes and do demonstrations for the public to give some impression of life in 18th century America.  One such demonstration involved Maybelle, who was displayed for their milking exhibit.  Of course, she needed to give birth in order to produce milk, and as a result she was impregnated four times in the four years that she lived there.  One calf was born prematurely and died, and the other three were taken from her and sold.  Pretty standard stuff for dairy production, even in circumstances such as these.

When the staff at the historical site decided to end the milking demonstrations, they fortunately contacted Woodstock, who gladly accepted her.

maybelle and kayli

Maybelle (left) and Kayli (Photo: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary)

One of Maybelle’s lost babies was sold to a petting zoo, and Woodstock has been attempting to reunite the two…but so far, the petting zoo has refused to give him up.

Speak out for Maybelle and her lost babies this Mother’s Day! You can get a cow ribbon of your own for a $5 donation.  As we learned last year from Our Henhouse’s Jasmin Singer, it can spark some really great conversations!

Want to spread the word online?  Check out these adorable e-cards and icons that you can use on Facebook or Twitter!

Next up: the story of Alexander, Blitzen, and Lawrence.

Cow Ribbon Campaign: Jasper and Poncho’s Story

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

get your ribbonAs we approach Mother’s Day (it’s on May 12th!), it’s time to spread the word about compassion for all mothers with our Cow Ribbon Campaign.  This is part one in a series of stories about mother cows and their babies. Have you gotten your cow ribbon yet?

But first, why wear a cow ribbon?  What do dairy cows have to do with Mother’s Day?

Like humans, cows must have babies in order to produce milk. In the dairy industry, they are kept in a state of almost constant pregnancy, and the calves that are born are taken from their mothers within hours. Females are usually kept to replace their mothers, and males are considered a byproduct. They are sold for veal or simply thrown away. (The veal industry was developed as a way to use these “extra” calves. Learn more here.) Two months after their calves are born, the cows are re-impregnated via artificial insemination and the cycle begins again.

Most dairy cows live and die in anonymity, as do their babies.  Once in a while, though, a lucky cow or calf escapes the industry.  We’ve decided to share a few of their stories.

Our first featured story is that of Poncho and Jasper, who live at VINE Sanctuary in Vermont.  Poncho and Jasper were found with four other “useless” dairy calves, tied to a tractor and left to die.  They were rescued by Farm Sanctuary, who provided them with the immediate medical attention they desperately needed.  Jasper was particularly sick and required several days of stay in an intensive care unit for medication, fluids, and a blood transfusion.

poncho and jasper

Poncho and Jasper as calves. (Photo: VINE Sanctuary)

After their recovery, Jasper and Poncho were transferred to VINE.  (The other three calves, named Blake, Phoebus, and Sixer, stayed at Farm Sanctuary.  Read their story here.) Now, anybody who has known a dog or a cat is well aware that each individual animal has a personality (for lack of a better word) of their own.  But the same rule applies for other animals, too, including those that are more typically considered a food source rather than a companion.  Here’s what caregiver Cheryl Wiley has to say about Jasper and Poncho…

“Poncho loves the world and never passes up an opportunity for attention—even from the vet! Irrepressibly curious, Poncho looks for chances to explore new things, often demonstrating just how ‘helpful’ he can be with projects.  He is also perhaps the most athletic cow we have ever seen. He can jump a four-foot fence from a standstill and will take the most difficult path around any obstacle, always arriving safely on the other side.

 

“Jasper is sweet and shy. He tends to be reserved with strangers but loves treats and never forgets those who have brought him a carrot or (even better) an apple. He can spot a vet in a heartbeat, though, and keeps his distance despite bribes! Jasper loves to play in the chickens’ water dish and is fascinated when it slides across the ice. Jasper loves to have his head and ears rubbed and makes it clear that he does not want the scratching to stop.”

Simply because humans like to drink the milk of mother cows, these two calves–now “big, gawky yet graceful, good-looking cows”–were abandoned and left to die.   According to VINE, their personalities have not changed as they’ve grown: Poncho remains more outgoing and high-spirited; Jasper, who required such intensive care after his rescue, remains “the quiet thinker”.  We’ll never know who their mothers were, but it’s more likely than not that they are no longer alive: the stresses of life as a dairy cow mean that they are “spent” at a young age, at which point they are usually turned into cheap meat like ground beef or dog food.

P and J today

Poncho and Jasper today. (Photo: VINE Sanctuary)

Speak out for Poncho and Jasper and their mothers this Mother’s Day! You can get a cow ribbon of your own for a $5 donation.  As we learned last year from Our Henhouse’s Jasmin Singer, it can spark some really great conversations!

Want to spread the word online?  Check out these adorable e-cards and icons that you can use on Facebook or Twitter!

Next up: the story of Maybelle.