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Dairy industry - cow welfare

Dairy cows are portrayed as having an idyllic life but the reality is that cows (like all mammals) only produce milk for their young after giving birth. Dairy cows are kept in a cycle of near constant pregnancy and lactation (meaning huge physical and psychological stress, often leading to disease and exhaustion). Every year, dairy cows also suffer the separation from their young just a day or two after giving birth, calling for each other desperately - the trauma and stress have been studied and even the dairy industry admit it causes emotional stress. The basics of dairy farming - removing newborn calves to sell the cow's milk - always severely affects the animals' physical and emotional welfare.

To read more click on one of the menu items on the right to learn about cows' natural behaviour and sentience, the life of a modern dairy cow, other animals farmed for milk, our investigations, farm assurance schemes, or to see FAQs about dairy farming.

We have recently published an updated report The Dark Side of Dairy providing an insight into the dairy industry.

For an overview, watch our short video The Dark Side of Dairy 


How the dairy industry works