Quick Hit: Article on Polled Dairy Cows is Surprisingly Honest

(h/t Charlie)

The article, PETA wants dairy farmers to breed genetically modified cows, seems like it will be an opportunity to rail against the AR group people love to hate. Actually, it’s an honest discussion about dehorning and what validates genetic modification of cows (money producing traits, and that’s about it.)

I included a hopeful quote below, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.

N.B. The article does include detailed descriptions of dehorning, which could be triggering to some.

“There wasn’t an incentive to use them [polled cows] before because you couldn’t make money off of them. But right now they are very comparable. You don’t see a difference (in production), in the Holsteins especially,” Crull said.

Crull believes farmers will rapidly change toward milking polled cows once they see proof there is no decrease in production. “When a farmer has to make a choice about anything that is similar, they’ll always choose what is most convenient. And the polled cow is most convenient because they won’t have to deal with the dehorning anymore,” Crull said.

dairycow

Read This, Not That: News Fails and Successes on the California Drought

Read this:

1. Watch/read the Democracy Now interview with creators of Cowspiracy. This is the best overall analysis of the role animal ag plays in California’s water shortage.

On fracking:

Fracking gets a lot of attention because of water use. Fracking uses about 100 billion gallons of water every year in the U.S., which is a tremendous amount of water, but animal agriculture uses in excess of 34 trillion gallons. So it’s magnitudes greater. And then again the emissions that come from animal agriculture are about equal to natural gas and petroleum production. So it’s an issue that is vastly more destructive when it comes to water consumption, water pollution, and even emissions.

On almonds:

Ten percent of all water in California is used for almonds, which is a tremendous amount of water. But again, just alfalfa alone, a crop that is not consumed by human beings, that is fed for livestock, consumes 15 percent. California produces 82 percent of the world’s entire almonds. This is — again 10 percent of California’s water is feeding the 82 percent of the world’s almond demands. And the other important fact is that Americans aren’t consuming, and Californians in particular, aren’t consuming nine ounces of almonds per day, which is not the case for animal agriculture. Animal products we’re consuming nine ounces per person per day in the United States.

Lots and lots of statistics. I encourage you to check out the whole thing!

2. LA times has a great infographic showing the amount of water used to produce different foods.

AND, what’s even cooler, they have an interactive graphic where you can create a virtual plate and see how much your water footprint is!

3. A Mother Jones article from last year shows the amount of water that goes into producing different dairy products.

4. A Cowspiracy blog post from February highlights a New Republic article called Big Cattle, Big Gulp: Cowboys and cows are sucking the American West dry.

  • Humans drink about a gallon of water a day; cows, upwards of 23 gallons.
  • The alfalfa, hay, and pasturage raised to feed livestock in California account for approximately 1/2 of the water used in the state, with alfalfa representing the highest-acreage crop.
  • In parts of Montana, as much as 90 percent of irrigated land is operated solely for the production of livestock feed
  • 90 percent of Nevada’s cropland is dedicated to raising hay.
  • 1/2 of Idaho’s three million acres of irrigated farmland grows forage and feed exclusively for cattle; livestock production represents 60 percent of the state’s water use.
  • In Utah, cows are the top agricultural product, and three-fifths of the state’s cropland is planted with hay.
  • Alfalfa and hay production in the West requires more than ten timesthe water used by the region’s cities and industries combined, according to some estimates.
  • Producing one kilogram of animal protein requires about 100 timesmore water than producing one kilogram of grain protein.

5. Truth or Drought has a change.org petition to Save Our Water to include animal agriculture. Another great summary of facts, including the following:

Making a meal with lentils instead of beef can save a family of four the equivalent of 17 bathtubs full of water, per Oxfam International.

Skipping one single hamburger saves 660 gallons of water (LA Times). (Comparatively, the popular tip of shaving a minute off your shower saves about 2 gallons of water.) This means that 6 hamburgers equal an entire year of showers! 

Not that.

Skip the New York Times article that only gives glancing attention to agriculture, and no mention of animal agriculture specifically:

But even a significant drop in residential water use will not move the consumption needle nearly as much as even a small reduction by farmers. Of all the surface water consumed in the state, roughly 80 percent is earmarked for the agricultural sector.

“The big question is agriculture, and there are difficult trade-offs that need to be made,” said Katrina Jessoe, assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.

Undercover video targets Wisconsin dairy – Feedstuffs

NESTLÉ Foods’ said it had severed all ties with a Wisconsin Dairy depicted in an undercover video of animal abuse released by animal rights group Mercy For Animals (MFA). The video, released Dec. 10, showed workers kicking, beating and dragging cows in a way that noted animal welfare expert Temple Grandin described as “very abusive, cruel behavior.”

MFA, known for its undercover video and fervent promotion of a vegan lifestyle, used the video to target Nestlé’s DiGiorno Pizza brand, calling on consumers to “ditch dairy, ditch DiGiorno.”

The video was filmed in October at Wiese Brothers Farms in Greenleaf, Wisc., near Green Bay. Nestlé purchases cheese for its pizzas from Foremost Farms, a regional cooperative with several cheese processing facilities throughout Wisconsin, including a plant in Appleton, where Weise Brothers delivered milk.

Foremost Farms said they will no longer accept milk from the dairy, which said that it has terminated two employees as part of its own investigation into what happened in the video. Industry sources tell Feedstuffs that the farm has been cooperating with local authorities, including the sheriff’s department and prosecuting attorney, in addition to bringing in outside animal welfare experts to audit and evaluate the farm’s policies, procedures, training and management.

Grandin, the Colorado State University professor, said that the problems depicted in the video indicate an obvious deficiency in those areas.

“My experience has been that when problems like these occur it can usually be traced back to a lack of supervision,” she said. “There are clear problems of employee training and employee supervision seen in this video. It takes strong management to make it be known that there are certain things you just don’t do and won’t be tolerated.”

Jim Reynolds, a professor of large animal medicine and welfare at Western University in Pomona, Calif., agreed, saying that there was “nothing defendable in the video,” and that the cows shown in the footage were under stress, in fear and probably in pain. He said that the types of behaviors shown by workers in the video should lead to criminal charges of animal cruelty.

“The employees seen in the video completely lacked basic understanding of animal welfare and animal behavior,” said Reynolds. “They showed no empathy for the cows.”

For its part, MFA used the video to encourage the organization’s supporters to bombard DiGiorno’s Facebook page with negative comments, and specifically to promote a vegan lifestyle.

“Although unconscionable cruelty and violence are standard practice for DiGiorno cheese suppliers, caring consumers can help end the needless suffering of cows and other farmed animals by choosing vegan alternatives to milk, cheese and ice cream,” MFA said via its website. “Cows have a natural lifespan of about 25 years and can produce milk for eight or nine years, but the stress caused by factory farm conditions leads to disease, lameness, and reproductive problems that render cows worthless to the dairy industry by the time they are four or five years old.”

According to published profiles of the farm, Wiese Brothers milked more than 4,300 cows in two facilities as of January 2012. Sources tell Feedstuffs that the operation manages as many as 8,600 animals following an expansion project completed last year.

 

Undercover video targets Wisconsin dairy – Feedstuffs.

Rick Bogle: Where’s oversight on UW teaching barn?


The photograph on the front page of Friday’s paper was apparently intended to justify UW-Madison’s announcement that it intends to spend $3 million to remodel its Dairy Cattle Center.

The photo ought to have prompted the editors to ask why the university has been keeping cows in such deplorable conditions. Where is the oversight?

The university says that the 56-year-old setup is “primarily a teaching barn.” What lesson is learned from seeing animals kept this way?

Feces-covered cows chained in cramped stalls isn’t an image the state likes to project. These cows don’t look happy to me.

— Rick Bogle, Madison

via Rick Bogle: Where's oversight on UW teaching barn?.

Whoopie cookies and more among Madison’s vegan sweets – Isthmus | The Daily Page

Thank you Cheryl Breuer for this informative and mouth watering article on Madison’s vegan goodies.

When vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli won Cupcake Wars on Food Network last year, I did a fist pump of victory for fellow vegans everywhere. The judges marveled at Coscarelli’s moist, delicious creations baked without eggs or butter and frosted without cream cheese, validating on national television what many vegans already know. Done well, vegan cakes, pies and desserts are every bit as complex and flavorful as their non-vegan counterparts.

Fortunately for Isthmus readers with a vegan sweet tooth, there are a growing number of choices available in the Madison area. Here are some of my favorites. Read the entire article here:

Whoopie cookies and more among Madison's vegan sweets – Isthmus | The Daily Page.

Wisconsin milk board overstates dairy’s benefits to children, some experts say | WisconsinWatch.org


Long-term studies show consuming more than one serving of dairy a day doesn’t further decrease the risk of weak bones or fractures, Willett added.

And the Mayo Clinic’s Nelson said even being vegan doesn’t increase that risk.

“We know that those individuals who avoid milk and animal products that contain calcium do just fine in terms of their growth, their development, and their bone health,” she said.

Nelson said that’s because vegan diets can be rich in other foods that are good calcium sources.

“The profile of the vegan diet also helps you conserve calcium,” she added. “The person who eats a lot of meat or a high animal-protein diet has a tendency to lose more calcium … it’s a metabolic process that’s quite complex.”

Read the whole article here:  Wisconsin milk board overstates dairy’s benefits to children, some experts say | WisconsinWatch.org.

Karl Garson: A calf needs a cow’s milk, but you don’t

The first and only legitimate use for a cow’s milk is to feed her calf.

Every other use that follows was forced on us by tradition, habit, marketing, questionable science, political pressure or any of those in varying combinations that arrived glass by fat-lined glass when we were defenseless children.

It’s time to throw them off and move on to a diet that excludes many of the dairy choices we’re making.

The recent, annual World Dairy Expo at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison was a fascinating spectacle. All that effort bent at balancing the weight of a cow’s daily milk production with her daily manure production. Despite that, one irrefutable fact remains: The first and the only legitimate use for a cow’s milk is to feed her calf.

Read more:

Karl Garson: A calf needs a cow’s milk, but you don’t.