Are Cows Sad When Their Calves Are Taken Away?

I had no idea what goes on in a modern dairy farm … and I grew up on a small family farm myself! One Saturday night around 8 years ago, when my wife showed me the reality, I was horrified. Profit doesn’t care if cows are sad when their calves are taken away. But vegans do.

Are Cows Sad When Their Calves Are Taken Away?

 Yes, cows are very sad when their calves are taken away. If you are a mother yourself then maybe you can imagine what it might be like to have your baby wrenched from your arms at only a few hours old. Sad is not really the word … 


Watch: heartbreaking footage of a calf’s last moments with his Mum.

(don’t worry, it’s not graphic)


On the overwhelming majority of dairy farms the world over, the newborn calf is removed from Mum within 24 hours.

Newborn calf in a wheel barrow, separated from Mum. It’s not immediate because, as with humans, the first serving of Mum’s milk contains nutrient dense, immunity-boosting colostrum which is hugely beneficial for the health of the calf.

If you’ve ever witnessed the process you’ll know it’s not particularly trauma-free, either for the calf or the cow. Mum will often cry for weeks after losing her baby.

Is that surprising when you consider cows have complex social structures and are intelligent, sentient creatures?

I will always remember my young daughter’s reaction when we were out for a walk in the country one weekend …

Walking alongside three or four fields with a dairy herd in there, we watched one cow who seemed very distressed. She was frantically calling and quickly trotting from field to field, obviously looking for someone.

We were unsure if it was her baby or another member of the herd but she was clearly distraught. After 10 minutes or so of watching the developments, my daughter began to cry.

Seeing the cow in this emotional state upset her deeply and we had to comfort her for quite some time afterwards.

I think most young children are vegan by default!


Should Calves Be Separated From Their Mother?

Of course, being vegan I will always argue that calves should be allowed to stay with their Mums for the natural duration of the suckling phase.

Newborn calf suckling from a plastic bottle. In the wild, a calf would feed on Mum’s milk for 9 months or so and then transition to solids. A strong maternal bond is formed between calf and cow during this time.

Not dissimilar to the maternal bond forged between a human baby and her Mother.

But on a dairy farm, that white gold is the prize. Profit margins dictate that the newborn cannot be allowed to take any of that precious milk.

Driven by consumer demand, the supermarkets make sure this is the only scenario whereby money can be made in the industry.

Any compassionate human being would conclude that calves should not be separated from their Mothers because it’s cruel to do so.

But, unlike the milk, compassion is in short supply on dairy farms.

This is why vegans are against milk and refuse to create the market demand by buying it.


Male Calves Get The Rough End of The Stick

Close up of a calf with a yellow tag in his ear, staring at the camera. If you thought the milk thing wasn’t sad enough then spare a thought for the calves unlucky enough to be born as males.

The industry is even less kind to these ill-fated beasts.

Males are an almost useless by-product of the industry and are often terminated shortly after birth.

Yes, it’s more financially favourable to get rid of the male calves as soon as possible. They don’t produce milk and so are next to worthless.

On many dairy farms across the world, males are confined in a holding pen with their fellow newborns and shot in the head at close range, one by one.

In the UK, this practice is supposed to have been outlawed and more male calves do now enter the veal industry … where they might make it to 7 months old if they’re lucky.

If you find all this is hard to believe and surely wouldn’t happen in a civilised society then maybe that’s because deep down, you are a compassionate and caring human being.


Why Do Vegans Call Milk “Mylk”?

Woman drinking a massive glass of milk. Vegans reject cow’s milk because of the way cows are treated in the dairy industry.

More and more people are switching to veganism because when they learn of this inherent cruelty, they cannot continue to support the industry.

This has got the dairy farmers worried and many now blame the rise of veganism for their dwindling profits.

The animosity has been building for a while now.

It’s got to the point where the industry is upset when vegan and plant based milks use the very word ‘milk’. They claim it’s false advertising.

So vegan milks have to be called “Soy Drinks” or “Oat Based Beverages”, for example.

This is why many vegans refer to these products as “Mylk” – it’s a bit of a protest at the fact the discourse has become so petty.


More Vegans Means Fewer Sad Cows!

No-one likes a sad cow … although many meat-eaters likely don’t give a hoot if cows are sad or happy, to be perfectly honest.

Cartoon frog giving the V for victory sign, set against a backdrop of a broccoli tree with the word 'vegan' down the right hand side. But a lot of people simply don’t realise the dairy farm is a profoundly miserable place for most cows. We all grow up surrounded by pictures of happy cows on the farm, after all.

Yeah … There’s a reason for that.

Eliminating your consumption of dairy eliminates the demand in the market for which you are responsible.

This is what vegans have chosen to do because it’s the only way we can sleep at night.

Once you know the truth there are only three options … indifference, denial or veganism!


I hope this article has helped you to understand more about the dairy industry and why vegans choose their particular path. If you’re not vegan yet then may I politely suggest you consider it. Or at least cut down your milk consumption … do it for all the sad cows.

Thanks for reading … please comment and share and have a compassionate day!




We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *