Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

The altar of sacrifice: The tragedy of bobby calves

The altar of sacrifice: The tragedy of bobby calves in New Zealand

Bobby calves in New Zealand are a sacrificial animal who are slayed at the altar of the economy. We kill them so that their mothers’ milk may flow, and we can have a thriving dairy market.

A bobby calf is the progeny of a dairy cow who is deliberately bred from so she will produce milk. If not kept for replacement or for beef production the young calf will be considered surplus to requirements. These calves receive a death sentence. They were born to die.

We sell their mother’s milk to many places internationally, but the latest market in China is burgeoning . Milk can be supplied to China in its fresh form where it has a shelf life of 16 days. That’s over twice the life of the calves who lived and died for it.

The launch of fresh cow milk from New Zealand to overseas consumers is a niche market, and one that the dairy industry is keen to capitalise on. It seems ludicrous, in an era of climate change, that we should further compound the damage done though methane emissions of dairy agriculture by flying planes of fresh dairy produce overseas. The ecological footprint is phenomenal.

But I am more concerned about our unethical footprint, which in my view is gigantic. While the wealthy and middle class Chinese tuck into fresh New Zealand milk, calves die. They die like flies. Their value is often nothing more than a gold coin.

Put it this way, you would pay more for a flat white than you would for a low-weight bobby calf. AC Petfoods, which operates in the greater Waikato region offers farmers $1 for calves who weigh between 17-24 kgs. Medium calves fetch $10 and larger calves for $20.

You could buy around five bobby calves for the price of a cup of coffee made from their mother’s milk.

I have done just that. Through my project Starfish Bobby Calf Project I have saved many of these tiny beings in my life. One tiny one was a wee girl already in a cage on the side of the road. I paid $10 for her – a real bargain. The farmer sold her to me - but reminded me that she was ‘worthless’. I would have happily parted with all the money in my bank account to save her, but he does not need to know that.

I don’t think she is worthless, I think she is beautiful and so do her new caregivers where she is living out her life in full.

But rescuing a small amount of bobby calves is a drop in an enormous bucket. Last year the Ministry for Primary Industries stated that 1.69 million bobby calves were killed. This is down from the 1.93 million killed in 2016 and the 2.17 million in 2015.

Those numbers are incomprehensible for most human minds. And so many of us push it aside and sip our lattes. But that doesn’t stop calves from being killed. It’s the reason I went vegan – I simply want no part in this.

Autumn calving is underway in New Zealand and the bobby calf trucks are now operating. For six days a week these 4-10 day old calves are collected from farmers around New Zealand and taken to the abattoir to be killed. Legally they can spend 24 hours without food, 12 of which may be on a transport truck.

In my book that is animal cruelty, plain and simple. Calves are neonatal animals, reliant on a mother and on a constant supply of milk. I cannot imagine the stress, pain and suffering these young calves go through.
All their short lives these beautiful and sensitive animals have known nothing but stress. They usually only have 24 hours with Mum and then have to adapt to feeding from a teat for the next three days. After that they are either shot, put up for sale at the yards and/or sent to the abattoir. And these are four-day old calves.

What kind of cruel species are we? We don't need to do this for survival. We do it for profit. The profit motive is stronger than ethics precisely because people mistake it for ethics. They believe that we must always act in accordance with the logic of the market, and that the economy's health is more important than that of living, sentient, breathing animals.

Turning living animals into objects of production and consumption means that we look at them in different ways. We no longer see them as having a life that matters or having intrinsic worth. Rather, we regard them as having extrinsic value - that is; having a monetary use. They are a tradable commodity.
There are even some dubious money schemes surfacing. Affco competes for bobby calves by offering farmers the chance to “give back to schools and fire services through their bobby calf programme”. They trade the life of a bobby calf for their image as monetary benefactors of schools and fire services.

All the way down the line people are attempting to profit off the lives of these innocent , gorgeous beings. The logic of the market is not concerned with ethics. It is an ideology that we align our ethics with – we value thriving markets. We feed them with live calves.

And like the monster it is, the system devours them along with our souls.

Ditch dairy. You don’t want to be part of that. The market is finally listening to those of us who chose not to be part of the violence to calves. Sales of non-dairy milk alternatives has grown by 250 percent since 2000.

So back away from the altar and say no to live sacrifice.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

HiveMind: Fair Enough? How Should New Zealanders Be Taxed? - Last Days To Have Your Say

Scoop and PEP invite you to share your issues, ideas and perspectives on the NZ tax system with other New Zealanders using Scoop’s HiveMind tool. This Tax HiveMind is intended to complement and feed into the review being run by the Government-appointed Tax Working Group (TWG), which is looking at the fairness, balance and structure of the tax system with a 10-year time horizon.

We at Scoop and PEP believe that an issue as important as the fairness of the tax regime should be open for discussion, debate and dialogue. Unfortunately, a written submission process just doesn’t encourage the kind of public exchange we think is necessary in a well-functioning democracy. More>>

 

HiveMind: Fair Enough? How Should New Zealanders Be Taxed?

Have Your Say - Scoop and PEP invite you to share your issues, ideas and perspectives on the NZ tax system with other New Zealanders using Scoop’s HiveMind tool. This Tax HiveMind is intended to complement and feed into the review being run by the Government-appointed Tax Working Group (TWG), which is looking at the fairness, balance and structure of the tax system with a 10-year time horizon. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Thompson + Clark & Russia’s World Cup

Daily, the coalition government keeps running into examples of the toxic legacy left behind by National – and just as regularly, even the simple fixes are proving stubbornly difficult to enact. Take the case of the security firm Thompson + Clark ... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The GCSB’s Security Hang-Up With Russia

So our GCSB has chimed in, alongside its British, Australian and US allies, with warnings about a “fresh wave” of Russian cyber attacks, although the warning has been curiously framed. More>>

ALSO:

PM's Europe Trip: CHOGM & Bilateral Meetings

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Europe for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and meetings with counterparts in Paris and Berlin. More>>

ALSO:


Addressing Climate Change: No New Offshore Exploration Permits

The Coalition Government is taking an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. More>>

ALSO:

Road Safety Summit: Actions To Improve Identified

The Local Government Road Safety Summit held last week identified actions that will lead to lasting changes to road safety in New Zealand, says Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages