Cows are extremely gentle and social animals. They live in large family groups called herds and will bond to certain herd members more than others (just like some human families). They use several different “moo” noises and body movements to communicate with each other. They have a hierarchy within the herd, much like wolves, and will choose the strongest, most intelligent to be the leader. On average cows will live around 25 years.
Researches have found that cows are intelligent and have an excellent long term memory. They develop lasting friendships and will actually hold grudges against cows that have wronged them in the past. They can recognize up to 100 of their friends and will mourn and actually shed tears over deceased or missing family members.
A mother cow and her calf establish a very strong bond. The gestation period is 280-290 days. Upon birth, many of the other cows will come around to meet the new calf, greeting it and showing affection. If the newborn is taken away from her, she will continue to cry and bellow sometimes for days.
Cows have a strong desire to live and do not fare well in close quarters. In factory farms, cows are often separated from their hierarchy structure which harms them emotionally. Mothers and calves are separated and a mother will cry out and continue to search unrelentlessly for her newborn calf.
In farms cows are crowded together in thousands in huge lots usually of dirt. They do not eat their regular food of grass and hay, but eat corn and soy. This is added with fillers and additives to help fatten them up for slaughter. These fillers cause chronic digestive pain and bloating that does not go away. The pressure is so much that it leads to breathing problems. In addition to the already emotional stress, the cow releases emotions such as rage, fear, and nervousness. This leads to disease within their bodies and it is a downward spiral from there.
Cows must endure excruciating pain. They are branded, leaving third degree burns. They have their horns removed. In younger cattle this is very traumatizing as the horn tissue is extremely sensitive. The horn buds are removed via chemicals, hand saws or burning, all without anesthesia. In older cows, the horns are already grown into the skull and dehorning tools must be used. Removing them sometimes causes infections, hemorrhaging, bone fracture, sinusitis and even death.
Male cows are castrated without anesthesia.
For dairy cows, additives and hormones are often added to increase milk production. Their bodies are constantly exploited and they are drugged to make them produce almost 5 times the amount of milk they should produce naturally for their calves. They are constantly hooked up to machines. The machines cause pain and stress on the udders and many times the cow will have infections and pus that seep into the milk. They are also injected with BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) which causes mastitis, an extremely painful inflammation of the udder. They are genetically manipulated and artificially inseminated over and over to continue to force their body to produce milk.
The constant stress emotionally and physically, mixed with filthy, dirty, bacteria infested and cramped conditions renders the cows lame. On average a dairy cow on a factory farm survives 4 or 5 years producing milk before she is “used up” and sent to slaughter. Their meat is used for soups, pet foods or low-grade hamburger meat since it is not deemed acceptable because of the poor condition of the animal.
Veal calves are taken away from their mothers immediately, sometimes just after one day. They are thrown into dark boxes and tethered having absolutely no room to move, to keep their flesh tender. They are sometimes given little or no food. To keep their flesh white they are given a liquid milk substitute that is low in iron and nutrient deficient. Most of the calves are slaughtered by 16-20 weeks old and cannot even walk to slaughter since their muscles are severely undeveloped. Those that are killed after a few days are used for low-grade meat meals, such as TV dinners. Over one millions calves are slaughtered every year for veal.by