What you never knew about dairy

'Bobby' is one of hundreds of thousands of week-old calves discarded yearly as 'waste products' of the dairy industry.


Most people aren't aware that in order to produce milk, dairy cows are kept almost continually pregnant. Unwanted male calves (known as 'bobby calves') are sent to slaughter in their first week of life so that their mothers' milk can be harvested for human consumption.

Take action now — or keep scrolling to learn more.

A mother cow and her calf

Strong bonds, broken

Cows — whether raised for meat or dairy — develop strong bonds with their newborn calves. Like humans, mother cows carry their unborn young for nine months. However, dairy calves are taken away from their mothers within 24 hours of birth, causing severe distress to mother and calf. Grieving mother cows can be heard bellowing (sometimes for days) for their missing young.

Discarded bobby calves awaiting slaughter

Even organic? What about goat dairy?

Certified organic dairy production rules mean that cows cannot be dosed with antibiotics, must be given organic feed, and raised in a more comfortable environment than conventional farms — but the cruel routine of removing young bobby calves from their mothers is still usual practice.

Dairy calves can also still be exposed to painful procedures such as disbudding or dehorning. These operations, or 'animal modifications', are required to be carried out with a 'minimisation of suffering to the animal' — but the reality is that surgery without anaesthetic is not illegal, even in organic farming.

Just like cows, goats must give birth in order to produce milk. Kids (baby goats) will be put through the same surgical procedures as calves. Unneeded kids are also tragically removed from their mothers and killed in order to harvest more milk for human consumption, and the production of cosmetic items like goat-milk soap. Some male kids may be kept for several months and then sold for slaughter and human consumption.

Beyond the dairy aisle: Cruelty-free calcium

Most of us know that a good source of calcium in our diet is essential to developing and maintaining strong and healthy bones. But what you may not know is that, through decades-long marketing campaigns, the dairy industry has done its best to convince the world that only by consuming lots of dairy products can we maintain healthy bones. Nutritionally speaking, this is completely untrue.

Fortunately, calcium is found in a wide variety of plant-based foods! Some of the best sources include dried figs, sesame seeds, dark leafy greens (like kale), bok choy, white beans, black-eyed peas and other pulses, seaweed (think sushi), fortified soy and nut-milks, unhulled tahini, white/brown bread, enriched fruit juice, broccoli, tofu, soya mince and molasses.

In addition to healthy plant-based meals, a weight-bearing exercise routine is essential to strengthening our bones. Exercises that increase bone density, combined with nutrient and vitamin dense whole-plant foods, will give your body the best chance it has to be in peak shape well into your later years.

So when you next hear a dairy advertisement tell you that you need calcium for healthy bones — think about what they aren't telling you. It couldn't be easier to strengthen your bones with plant-based and cruelty-free sources of calcium.

You won't miss dairy

Going dairy-free doesn't mean you have to miss out on all your favourite foods. The ever-expanding range of calcium-rich and dairy-free products in supermarkets will cater for all your milk, cheese, chocolate and yoghurt needs! Check out the Dairy-free Shopping List for our guide to a whole world of creamy treats that are kind to calves.

Delicious dairy-free products that are kind to calves and their mums

Help save dairy cows and calves from cruelty

Love animals? Subscribe and help end animal abuse:
Like Animals Australia On Facebook
Explosive evidence of 'live baiting' cruelty has rocked the Australian greyhound industry. View via iView or the Four Corners website. Get the details & tune in »

The repercussions of our investigations into the greyhound racing industry have been game-changing. Here's how you helped make a difference. Read the latest » »

You already know cage eggs are cruel, but you'll never hear the cage egg industry admit it. So what else might they be cagey about? These five facts may ruffle some feathers. Discover the truth » »

What contributes more to climate change than all the world’s planes, trains and automobiles combined? Hint: it’s not coal and it’s not good for humanity! Read more » »

In a glorious tribute to the power of compassion, the Gadhimai slaughter festival will now be a "momentous celebration of life." Celebrate the great news » »

No chickens were harmed in the making of this video. Or this meal. Read more » »

One of the world's foremost spiritual leaders has used his influence to speak out in defence of all those who share this planet. Read more » »

Despite the nightly news doing its best to depress, from Australia to Brazil, China to Norway, there is one trait that unites humankind all over the world — kindness. Read on to discover some of the best animal... Watch the viral video » »

In 2014, Lyn White, Campaign Director at Animals Australia, spoke to audiences across the country — and asked one simple question: 'Does history have to repeat itself or is it possible to have a kinder, m... Watch now » »

Make a difference for animals...