Visit a local farm
Editor of the Reformer:
I write in response to the letter to the editor of May 5, "On Mother's Day, remember the cows." I've worked in the dairy industry all of my life, and wish to correct several errors in this letter.
"Newborn calves are torn from their mothers at birth, so we can seize and drink the milk that mother cows produce for them." While the writer is correct that new born calves are separated from their mothers soon after birth on most dairy farms, this is done for the health and safety of the calves. A quick check of online resources brought up this explanation from the University of Minnesota: "The calf is born essentially devoid of antibodies and therefore, it is critical that colostrum be as bacteria free as possible to prevent scours, transmission of Johne's disease and other disease causing organisms. Bacteria can also block immunoglobulin absorption across the intestine. Only during the calf's first 24 hours can it absorb whole antibodies through its small intestine wall. These antibodies circulate in the animal's bloodstream to help fight off diseases and infections during the first few weeks of life."
Some cows are more maternal than others, and occasionally one looks for her calf. But I've never seen any cow "bellow for days." The babies are not "all kept alive elsewhere, to soon become veal cutlets." Where would the dairy replacements come from, if none were raised as the next generation?
I do hope that the letter writer goes out to a dairy farm to see that cows are not, as he says, "spending their lives on a concrete floor, chained, with no outdoor access." There are several farms in our area, all of which have their cows on pasture when the weather allows. Maybe it would make a pleasant Mother's Day trip to see our local dairy farms treating their animals much differently than what he fears.
Jill Stahl Tyler, Brattleboro, May 6