The dairy industry and agriculture


Jun 1, 2018
Reaction score
  1. Omnivore
Hi all,

My name is Kevin and I live on a small family run beef farm which used to be dairy, so obviously I'm not vegan. I'm not coming here to pick a fight, I just wanted to get a vegans perspective of the dairy industry in particular but also the agricultural industry as a whole.

I'll start off. From what I've seen in farms across the UK and New Zealand, I believe the diary industry to be humain. From a farmers perspective, if a cow is treated poorly, they will become stressed and their milk yields will drop, costing the farmer money. We spend a lot of time and capital creating feeds for the cattle, which takes up a large percentage of our profit margin. If a cow is stressed, the farmer still has to pay for their food, water, housing, bedding, etc, but the cow won't be producing as much milk. In an industry where profit margins are tightening more and more, farmers cannot afford to have their cattle stressed, therefore we provide a stress free environment for the cows to live in. During my time in New Zealand, I was able to see over 40 dairy farms. New Zealand's animal welfare regulations are no where near as strict as what we have in the UK, yet the cows are just as happy and healthy and stress free because that benefits milk production and therefore profit for the farmer.

Again I would like to iterate that I'm not here to fight, but debate. I've seen hurtful comments from vegans and farmers alike, which bring little benefit to anyone.

Many thanks
Hi Kevin. How very brave of you to enter what you might fear to be the lions’ den. ;)

First of all let me tell you that I grew up on a mixed farm in Canada so I understand farming people, their sense of both self-help and community and their ways of thinking.

Now living in Yorkshire I can best explain the vegan position by relating to you a conversation I once had with a Yorkshire farmer:

Hugh: “My animals are healthy, well fed and contented.”
Roger: “I am sure they are, Hugh, and then you send them off to slaughter.”

There was no response to that, nor could there be.

You use the word humane. A term also frequently used is good animal welfare. Vegans don’t really support animal welfare arguments. It’s ok when referring to situations like tightly caged battery hens because there is an argument that suffering can at least be reduced before the inevitable end. Vegans usually argue for abolitionism not welfarism.

  • Like
Reactions: Lou and Veganite
If all beef and dairy came from small family farms I probably wouldn't have become's really the horrors of factory farming that drove me to veganism. I'm sure the farming practices you experience and are involved in are much better than the way corporate producers do things. But after living a vegan lifestyle for a little while I've come to value animal's lives, rights, and emotional welfare much more. With that change in values came the realization that any exploitation or violation of an animal's autonomy is morally wrong, no matter how it is done.

Things on your farm may not happen quite like this, but the vast majority of dairy comes from factory farms and your experiences are not representative of dairy practices as a whole. Imagine the dairy industry applied to female humans instead of cows:

-purchase a young girl
-ensure she cannot escape
-feed her the cheapest food you can without lowering your bottom line
-inject her with hormones and antibiotics
-at the youngest viable age, forcibly impregnate her with a stranger's semen
-steal her baby hours after birth and never let them see each other again
-if her baby is a girl, sell it or keep it until it can be impregnated
-if her baby is a boy, murder it and throw it away or chain it up for a few months before murdering it for it's pudgy flesh
-while she's still mourning the loss of her baby, pump as much milk from her breasts as possible, often up to or beyond the point of her nipples bleeding and leaking pus
-repeat the process until the girl's milk production drops below a certain cost/benefit threshold, at which point murder her and chop up her body for consumption

I've never worked on a dairy farm. I'm sure I've got some things wrong. But the point is cows are individual, sentient beings with internal lives which are inherently valuable. Enslaving them and exploiting their reproductive systems for profit is abhorrent and unjustifiable under any circumstance.
  • Like
Reactions: Lou
Hi Roger,

Thanks for your response, very interesting to hear your story. It makes me wonder how many people have grown up on farms and then become vegan.

In response to your comments I ask you (and everyone else) this.

If we were to abolish animal farming as we know it and everyone lived a vegan lifestyle, then do you think that these animals would have a life at all? I know there may be sanctuaries and some would be kept as pets but that doesn't account for the millions of animals all over the world which we currently have on farms. What would you suggest we do with all these animals?

I also ask is a short life better than no life at all? Not sure about you, but if I was taken to a slaughterhouse tomorrow and I could go back in time and got to choose whether I would be born or not, I would choose to have a short life instead of no life at all.


Hello to Sax,

Thankyou also for your response,

I see exactly what you are saying about putting female humans in that position. But cows are not humans. If we were to farm female humans like you were saying, then there is no doubt that they would be rather ****** off and depressed to say the least. But if you look at a farm where some of the things you say do take place, although many are no longer common practice due to welfare advancements, the cows are happy. Cows are very strong animals and can actually jump quite high. If a cow really wasn't happy in its current environment then it would be able to escape in most scenarios, yet they rarely do. I can't speak for the whole world as I've only experienced a small amount of it. I have no doubt that there are unhappy cows in the world but the majority are well looked after and are indeed happy.

Just to clear up the facts from your post:
  • Cattle can and do escape, the fencing we put up is just a deterrent. Cows will often escape into a neighbouring field because there may be more or lusher grass in there.
  • We may try to make the feed as cheaply as possible, but this is still a lot more expensive than you might think and is nutritionally tailored to their needs to prevent deficiencies. Deficiencies can cause a whole lot of problems like weight loss, drop in milk yield, disease, drop in fertility, all of which costs the farmer money and puts unnecessary stress on the cow.
  • Hormones are used to increase the fertility of the cow so we don't have to serve (artificially inseminate) her as many times. Reduces stress on the cow and lowers our costs
  • The age at which cattle are inseminated has been researched extensively by dairy boards. It differs between farms but is typically around 15-18months old. Cows reach sexual maturity at about 11-12 months old. In the wild, cattle at 11-12 months old would start to show signs of oestrus and attract the attention of bulls
  • Calves are taken from their mothers to reduce their attachment to each other making the whole process less stressful. It also allows the calf a better chance of survival as their needs can be monitored more closely by the farmer. Colostrum is vital to the calf's survival, they need as much as they can to decrease their mortality and the best way to do this is to milk the colostrum off of the mother and then give it to her calf so you can see exactly how much the calf has had.
  • It is sad that some bulls are killed at birth but there have been developments which have led to the production of veal, which I think you were trying to get at, but no chaining up, not in the UK anyway. Chaining up cattle is illegal.
  • The cows udder only secretes blood and pus when infected, also known as mastitis. Farmers do as much as they can to prevent mastitis. The prevention of mastitis is always better for the cow and cheaper for the farmer than treating it, but just like in humans, some cases of mastitis are inevitable. Cows with mastitis will have their milk thrown away until they are clear of the infection. There are very strict regulations of the amount of bacteria (from infections) that can be in milk when it is collected by the milk tanker. If it doesn't meet these regulations then the whole batch of milk is thrown away
This last one I want to keep separate because it sort of relates to what Roger was saying. Its a hard truth but as soon as a cow becomes unprofitable, we cannot afford to keep her on farm. At the end of the day farmers are businessmen too and as much as they may like to keep their cows for longer, they cannot afford it. I've been to a slaughterhouse. Again, there are exceptions, but slaughterhouses have regulations for animal welfare too. I cannot remember all of them off of the top of my head but the cattle are led one by one with sheeted panels around them so they have no way to see any gruesome sights. They are then knocked unconscious with a bolt gun essentially making them brain dead, which is instantaneous and pain-free.

I'm sorry if I've bored you a little but there is a lot of misconception about the dairy industry. As I've said, the dairy industry isn't perfect and there are a small number of people who treat their animals inhumanly, however the majority do the best they can to ensure their cattle live a fulfilled and contented life, to the best of their ability, because happy cows lead to a more profitable business
  • Like
Reactions: Ricardo
A couple of things, Kevin.

It is my opinion that dairy is a business that is based on the premise that humans should drink milk or eat cheese or use butter and that it is 'healthy' for humans to do so. It is also my opinion that this premise is not true.

No other adult animals consume milk, milk is meant for the baby of the species it comes from. Period.

One of the activists that has some very good discussion points is a YouTuber called Earthling Ed - if you have time to look him up please do watch a few of his videos as he has a kind and succinct way of answering many of your points.

Emma JC
  • Like
Reactions: Lou

Animals are not property and have every right to freedom as any other living creature. They may not be as smart as some humans but they still have the right to decide their own fate according to the laws of nature. Also animals don't need us to survive as many assume otherwise.

I'm different from others though with the belief that those who want to eat meat should take a life themselves without automatic weapons. Pray and predator law of nature is what keeps a specie healthy and disease occurs without it.


the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
  • Like
Reactions: Lou
Hello Kevin...

Welcome to the forum. So there's both ethical reasons and health reasons for people not wanting dairy in their diets.

Emma JC is correct about the negative impact dairy has on our health. Furthermore, the science is pretty solid on this one. The China Study, by doctor T. Colin Campbell, would explain this science if you care to read it. His book explains in detail about his lengthy years of research him and his colleagues did on casein protein and its link to cancer.

Doctor Campbell spent his career as a nutritional biochemist at Cornell University. He also grew up on a dairy farm, himself. He was brought up to believe milk was the miracle food, like the rest of us. However, don't believe me; I encourage you to research the facts on casein yourself.

Earthling Ed's videos are very good. He's a good speaker on veganism. His videos explain in a very convincing way about the ethical aspect of veganism. Definitely watch his stuff, as it does explain the ethics of veganism very well. Much better than I could, that's for sure.

I'd also highly suggest watching the documentary Earthlings on YouTube, despite its graphic nature. It sums up factory farming pretty darn good. It had me in tears. It should give you a lot of insight as to why vegans feel so passionate about the horrors of factory farming. After all, we're not trying to candy coat things here.

  • Like
Reactions: Lou
Hey there, I'm a a vegan welfarist who focuses on one thing, the harms produced by an act (zemiology).

The dairy industry, the way it's operating produces harms beyond measure. My momz family (in India) had a small dairy farm. But it wasn't a farm as much as it was a house that happened to have a **** ton of cows that were pets (along with some dogs and goats). They milked these cows (but only when they gave birth) so milk was a luxury. Cows were never sold off for meat. They were kept alive until they died and taken care of until they died. (They were present in household prayers, my relatives played with them, etc...). Their poop was used for fuel and it wasn't mass produced the way it is by most farms which result in poop lagoons.

Now my example is one small micro example and exists in places that aren't the most industrialized. Heck even now, unless it's a local village, most dairy in India is as messed up as it is.

It's not a matter of whether taking excess cow milk is unethical (after the calf has been fed) or healthy. It's whether calves will be separated so humans can take it all, if animals are being killed so we can have it and if the industry is working hand in hand with meat industries.

Dairy, the way it's produced, is harmful because it kills sentient beings, that's enough for me to not consume it.
  • Like
Reactions: Lou
I appreciate the earnest reply. It's interesting to hear from someone with first hand experience on dairy farms. Our disagreement doesn't stem from a misunderstanding of facts but a difference in values.

Animals' lives belong to them. They aren't yours to exploit or terminate, no matter how humanely. Profit isn't a justifiable reason to harm another living being.

What would you suggest we do with all these animals?

Stop breeding them.

I would choose to have a short life instead of no life at all.

Except you wouldn't have a choice; not any choice, whatsoever, for your entire life. You would be enslaved and every aspect of your existence would be determined by a cost/benefit analysis.

I have no doubt that there are unhappy cows in the world but the majority are well looked after and are indeed happy.

The majority live on factory farms.
  • Like
Reactions: Lou

Nothing like a good strong coffee fresh brewed from the bean, with date sugar syrup and a fat lot of yummy, fatty cream while I peruse this thread.

Cream that wasn't specifically intended for another species. Cream without any blood or pus in it. Cream that is loaded with calcium. Cream that contains no bacteria, nor will encourage any nasty bacteria fostering in my colon. Cream that won't raise IGF-1 levels, which contributes to cancer growth. Cream that won't gum up my insides and clog up the villi in my small intestine. Cream that won't give me the sniffles or cause an excess of cloudy snot. Cream that didn't involve having to kill any sentient life, make a mother sad or a young calf fearful. Cream that isn't strongly implicated in Diabetes Type 1 or contributes to Diabetes Type 2. Cream that doesn't contain saturated fat from animals, and 0 cholesterol. Cream that blows away the competition in terms of mineral and vitamin content, with a healthy amount of both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Cream that I could actually grow myself without having to pay anyone for it if I wished.

Ah, un-hulled Tahini blended with water. You and Dates getting it on with some fresh coffee beans and having a party in my tums and making me smile while peruse this thread.
  • Like
Reactions: Lou and Emma JC
Hi again Kevin,

In my experience there are three main points that people raise in attempts to salve their consciences.

One: But if the world went vegan what would happen to all the animals? Answer: It will not happen overnight. It will evolve and gradually fewer and fewer animals will be bred and killed.

Two: But most animals are well cared for and are happy. Answer: To kill is morally wrong.

Three: But surely it is better to have lived a short life than none at all. Answer: You need a certain amount of intellectual perseverance to understand this one. Please see Rory’s thread, “How to respond to this argument”, currently on page 4 in “General”.

It's a hard truth but as soon as a cow becomes unprofitable ....

Any vegan will tell you that this situation is not only very, very sad but is totally unnecessary. We do not need the meat or the milk. And to make matters worse it is not just the killing of the animal but the breeding of it with the intention of killing.

Now, you have posed all three of those questions. Could I ask you a direct one? You are a young man. You have all of your adult life in front of you. Given as a percentage, what is the probability of your ever wanting to choose to change the way you intend to make your living and to embrace veganism?

  • Like
Reactions: Lou
I was raised on a dairy farm, from when I was first introduced to solid foods my mum had a hard time getting me to eat meat. I would never eat fish, rabbit, chicken or offal, but learned to eat enough other meat to avoid a flogging.
Some of my first nightmares were of animals I had known bring served for a meal.
My childhood was dreadful, a pet lamb disappeared, a pet piglet that was like a puppy, just gone one day. the chooks that flew away when they were too old to lay. The cows crying for their calves. Too many kittens, dog to old to work, birds eating too much fruit in the orchard, my snake that would coil in my lap ( he wasn't brown he was grey ) It was war between my animal friends and my parents. All disappeared NOTHING humane about it.
That was my first 8 years, there is more to tell but that is enough for now.
I have no personal experience in Dairy farming but I went to an agricultural college once and was horrified by the way the pigs were being kept and that was at a college!

Alleycat: Your experiences are very moving. Thanks for sharing.
Kevin: I'm afraid I don't believe that cows are happy in modern factory farms.
  • Like
Reactions: Lou
Until you are willing to view a cow with empathy as a sentient being, you'll probably never understand the vegan rationalization.

That's the entire crux of veganism. We view other animals with empathy as fellow living creatures that deserve life and are not there to be treated as commodities. Just as we feel human slavery, torture, and genocide is horrific, we feel the same about animals.

I get as upset about how we humans treat other humans as I do over our treatment of animals. (That said, you won't see me making threats to any fellow human being over their treatment of animals, as I feel that's absolute hypocrisy. But I still reserve my right to feel pretty sad and disheartened by their actions and hope that some day they'll finally reach a similar understanding of sentient beings.)
  • Like
Reactions: Lou and Veganite

Animals are not property and have every right to freedom as any other living creature. They may not be as smart as some humans but they still have the right to decide their own fate according to the laws of nature. Also animals don't need us to survive as many assume otherwise.

I'm different from others though with the belief that those who want to eat meat should take a life themselves without automatic weapons. Pray and predator law of nature is what keeps a specie healthy and disease occurs without it.


the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Just a question. Being animals are not property can I walk over to your house and if your dog willingly comes with me, take him home? Because he certainly isn’t yours if he cannot be owned? I think you’re a maybe a little on the crazy side of this? Animals are here for our use. If we didn’t need them for food etc why would they be here?
I love my animals.. We raise and breed poultry and we also run a cow calf operation. We absolutely love our animals and they never see a day without food or water. We treat them like pets but we do process them. We process birds every year and we process a few steers.. They love just as good a life as your “sanctuary animals” and a lot from what I’ve seen, a better life than animals in a sanctuary. Just like each one of us they will just have one bad day. We all die and none of us get to choose when.
Hi Ricardo, and welcome to the forum.

First of all, using your logic: A child, my child, is not considered property either. They're considered human beings, right? Using your logic, does that give some stranger the right to come and take my child away?

There's a bit of gray area here for vegan's anyways, as owning a pet is not really considered vegan. Some vegans would take that a step further, wanting to not only eat a vegan diet themselves, but imposing one on their carnivore pets. I'm not saying that is good or bad. I'm just saying that vegan's aren't perfect, and we most certainly don't have all the answers to everything.

Ethical vegans hope and work for a world in which some day no animals are considered property, no animals are born or bred into captivity, and no animals are domesticated or unfree. A belief in animal liberation is thus not compatible with a belief in the continued institution of “pet” ownership. So pet ownership is still something being hotly debated among vegans. Read more here on the topic.

Ricardo, farming animals for food or commodity in the end still has the same result, slaughter. No matter how nice you are to your animals, you still kill them in the end, and long before their innocent lifespans has seen its entirety, I might add. No matter what you say, they, the animals, don't wish to die, anymore than any other animal on this planet wants to die. Do you want to die? Didn't think so! If you truly loved your animals, like you say you do, you would want to see their innocent lives through to the end of it, naturally...not through slaughter, for capital gain, as it is currently.

The survival instinct doesn't just go away because they're being bred to eat and/or provide hides and leathers for people. Animals going to slaughter fight desperately for their lives; just as we would if we were in their place. They fear just the same as you would being lead to your execution. What's the difference? Your farmed animals fear and feel pain just the same as we do.

I posted this as a joke, earlier, but perhaps you will see the irony in it: Meat-Eater says: Countries that eat dogs, cats or dolphins are totally barbaric. They should just eat pigs, cows, fish, chicken and turkeys like normal people.

Ricardo, we're not hater's of meat-eaters or farmers here, much to many meat-eater's surprise that come here. I think the majority of us here were all meat-eaters' once upon a time. Most of my friends and family are non-vegans. It is me that has to fit into their world, as the minority...not the other way around. Please don't judge vegan's as a whole, as we are all very much individuals. Although the overall message is the same, vegan activism is very much different for every vegan.

Earthling Ed has many of the answers you seek. Why do vegans feel so passionate about the lifestyle and philosophy? Try watching more of his videos if you want to know why vegans are least for the ethical reasons. I'll post one of his videos below, as well as a link to his channel.

  • Like
Reactions: Lou
If they had an emoticon for hands clapping it would be here... well said!!

Emma JC
  • Like
Reactions: Lou
If they had an emoticon for hands clapping it would be here

Here, if I can be so bold, I can loan you my personal one ;)