The life of the calf born on a dairy farm is far from peaceful. Upon birth, their mother is almost immediately taken away from them, as their milk is redirected for human consumption. This can be a traumatic experience for both the mother and the calf as they are separated right after birth. The female calves will be raised to replace their mothers as dairy cows, while the males are taken away to be sold.
The female calves are usually kept in tight enclosures and fed milk substitutes, such as reconstituted milk powder. The milk they produce is utilized to provide milk for human needs. The calves are usually kept on a restricted diet in order to prevent them from growing too quickly, which can be unhealthy for them. They are typically not given any type of enrichment or stimulation during their confinement.
Male calves are taken away from the farm to be sold for meat, either as veal or a beef product. This process can be cruel, as calves may endure a long, stressful journey to their final destination. The calves may be kept isolated in small pens and given a milk-based liquid diet. This is done to keep their skin soft and their meat more tender.
When female calves reach the age where they are ready to produce milk, their lives change drastically. They may be moved to a new area, introduced to a milking machine, and given feed intended to encourage milk production. They are tethered in their stalls and milked multiple times a day, often with no access to exercise, sunlight, or fresh air. They may also have their horns removed and faces clipped.
The lives of dairy cows and their calves are often short and filled with hardship. The physical and emotional stress placed on these animals can be traumatizing, as they are taken away from their mothers and subjected to confinement and lack of enrichment. It is important to be aware of the realities of life on a dairy farm, and to think carefully before supporting the industry.