Response to Vancouver Sun Opinion Column: This Mother's Day, give some thought to dairy cows' suffering, Column, May 11
"On my own farm, cows and calves are given utmost care. Their homes are clean and comfortable with lots of room for fresh air, growth, development and social interaction. Our cows are our companions. They each have a name and a personality. If you were to visit you would be shown "Lavender" or "Anne" and many of the other cows that make the farm their home.
The natural cycle is for cows to become pregnant and in doing so produce a calf and Canadian milk. She takes a break and then repeats this cycle. In many parts of the world this process can be "doctored" by giving cows growth hormones to keep them milking for two or three years without having a calf. Thankfully, we do not use such hormones in Canada and rely on nature. Healthy, comfortable, and contented cows will become pregnant and so we work hard to promote their well being.
I do not exploit my cows. I care for them in order that they may produce one of the healthiest foods our bodies need - milk! Milk produced in Canada meets stringent requirements for safety, cleanliness and nutrition, and at a reasonable price.
My cows produce a lot of milk, but their udders are not swollen, nor under stress. As dairy producers, we are not interested in stressing our cows as they are more likely to become ill, lame, and reduce production. We do raise our heifer calves and sometimes the bulls as well, but usually our bulls are sold in the first month or two.
I believe in and follow the Canadian code of animal care as well as the Transportation Act, which governs how animals should be transported. On the rare occasion a cow is unable to stand, we manage her pain, consult with a veterinarian, and as a last resort may make a sad decision to humanely euthanize her. Thankfully this does not occur very often.
The writer mentions that cows are unable to stand or walk when they reach the slaughterhouse. I am surprised at this as in Canada, CFIA has monitors in auctions to prevent this rare issue. Legislation is followed against any handler who treats animals in such a manner.
Dairy farmers work hard to produce milk that is clean, fresh, and humanely produced. Dairy Farmers of Canada are working on a program called ProAction Initiative that will see a standard of care across the country on every dairy farm. Then I will be able to speak from the perspective of all farms and not just my own and the many that I have visited; I can attest that these farms have excellent standards already in place.
I will continue to take pride in what I do, knowing I provide a safe, local food choice and produce food with care and attention to the animals that help supply it.
I look forward to continuing tours on my farm this summer in order to show and tell the true story of my local B.C. Dairy Farm."
Dave Taylor, Courtenay, BC