Read This Before You “Adopt a Cow” From Cadbury
Cadbury has launched a new marketing campaign urging customers to “Adopt a Cow”. The cutesy visuals might make this promotion look harmless, but there’s something sinister about the way it glosses over the cruelty inherent in the dairy industry.
The purpose of the campaign is supposedly to teach children where milk comes from – a Cadbury spokesperson claims that “one in five children do not know that milk comes from cows”. While we fully support genuine efforts to inform people about the way their food is produced, Cadbury doesn’t appear to be giving customers the full story. Perhaps that’s because the company doesn’t want anyone to realise how ironic it is to “adopt” a cow from the dairy industry – which profits from tearing families apart.
Here are five common practices in dairy farming that Cadbury has conveniently not mentioned in its promotion:
Cows are artificially inseminated
Like humans and other mammals, cows only produce milk when they have a baby to feed. The dairy industry needs a steady supply of this milk in order to generate a profit, which means it has to make sure cows are regularly getting pregnant and giving birth. This is typically achieved through artificial insemination, a stressful and uncomfortable process in which industry workers restrain the cow and manually insert semen into her uterus – with a hand forced inside her rectum to guide the process.
Calves are torn from their mothers
Things get truly grim nine months later, when the calf is born. The dairy industry relies on selling the mother’s milk, which means her baby isn’t allowed to stay by her side and drink it. In nature, cows nurse their babies for up to a year, but on dairy farms, mother and calf are typically separated within two days – and sometimes just hours after birth. Like humans, cows form profound bonds with their babies, and depriving them of contact causes terrible distress to both mother and calf. Mother cows have been known to chase and attack farmers who take their calves, even breaking down fences in a desperate bid to reach them. Once separated, mother and baby often bellow and cry for days.
Male calves are shot in the head
What happens next to the frightened and confused calves depends on their gender. Male calves can’t produce milk, so they’re of little use to the dairy industry. Many will be sold for veal, and others will be seen as nothing more than waste and will simply be killed and disposed of. Damning footage released by Viva! in 2011 shows an unwanted calf being shot in the head on a farm that supplies milk to Cadbury, and it’s estimated that more than 100,000 calves endure the same fate in the UK every year.
Female calves are isolated in tiny pens
Many female calves will be forced into the same horrific cycle as their mothers. It’s legal for them to be kept in cramped individual pens – where they’re unable to exercise, play, or socialise – for the first eight weeks of their lives. Disturbing footage released by Animal Equality earlier this year shows calves on a farm in Dorset suffering in enclosures that are clearly too small to meet their needs:
Cows are “retired” to the abattoir
Cows on dairy farms are often re-impregnated just months after giving birth, meaning they’ll simultaneously be pregnant and lactating. This places a huge strain on their bodies, and they’re typically sent to slaughter after just a few short years, when their milk production wanes. They’re usually killed when they’re around only 5 years old, even though they can naturally live well into their twenties. Horrifically, many are pregnant when they’re sent to slaughter.
What Can You Do
If you really want to adopt a cow, contact an accredited animal sanctuary to find out whether it offers an adoption or sponsorship programme.
To help prevent cows from being abused in the dairy industry, stop consuming Cadbury chocolate and other dairy foods altogether. More and more people are rejecting the cruelty – including former dairy farmers – and with so many plant-based milks, cheeses, and ice creams available, it’s never been easier to go vegan. Order one of PETA’s free vegan starter kits today to help you make the switch.