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A cow can live for around 20 years, but in the commercial systems of the beef and dairy industries their life span can range from a few hours old to a maximum of 6 years. This is why at ‘Til The Cows Come Home we welcome any cows from these industries that are planned to be culled, any retired cows or unwanted calves from the dairy industry, and even herds from farmers that can no longer afford to keep a herd. We are here to give cows (and any other farmed animals) a second chance at life by rehoming them to loving homes.

Like all mammals, cows must give birth in order to produce milk.[1] Due to extensive biological manipulation, today’s dairy cows produce up to 12 times more milk than they would naturally produce to feed a calf.[2] In the dairy industry the calf is usually separated from their mother within the first few days, so that the cow can be milked for human consumption,[3] unlike under natural conditions where the calf remains with their mothers in their herds.[4]

So what happens to the calf after separation you may ask. Essentially in the dairy industry these calves which are referred to as bobby calves (newborn calves that are less than 30 days old), are classified as surplus. This is evident as around 450,000 bobby calves per year in Australia are slaughtered. This can occur on the farm within the first 24 hours of life or after being transported for commercial use within the first 5 days of life.[5] Or alternatively a small number of the female calves will be kept in order to replace the cows when they are of age to start reproducing.

In the Australian Animal Welfare Standards for Cows, which is discussed in more depth here (https://tilthecowscomehome.org/australian-animal-welfare-standards/), it has few standards and guidelines for calves, and the standards that are outlined are not adequate in providing proper welfare measures. Further the Australian Land Transport of Livestock Standards and Guidelines can also be characterised to do little to protect calves in these industries. This is apparent as the standard permits the transportation of bobby calves less than five days old and bobby calves between five and 30 days old only if the journey is less than six hours and 12 hours respectively[6]. This standard generates a number of welfare issues  for the bobby calves such  as hunger and thirst issues, exhaustion, bruising and injuries, deaths en-route, and illnesses. Shockingly, the dairy industry has committed to a voluntary standard which allows milk to be withheld from calves for up to 30 hours[7] despite there being evidence that shows calves need a feed around five times per day.[8] Thus, it is evident that Australia has few legal protections that exist to protect bobby calves,[9] demonstrating that there is an urgent need for Australia to pass legal protections to better protect the welfare of the baby cows in these industries. However, we at ‘Til the Cows Come Home provide a better solution than waiting for a more substantive legal mechanism to be adopted, we are willing, ready and able to rehome any unwanted bobby calves into a loving home with the help of the community, you land owners and cow lovers. Therefore, we are asking people to contact their local dairy farmers and suggest that they surrender any unwanted bobby calves, as well as retired cows to us so that we have the opportunity to find them a forever home.

We enjoy working with farmers to rescue retired dairy cows and unwanted bobby calves. Do you, or anyone you know, have acreage? Are you interested in companion cows for your property or a herd of soil regenerators for your land? Get in touch and help us find loving homes for these beautiful creatures. Here is a listing of animals available today (updated daily): https://www.facebook.com/tilthecowscomehomeau/photos/a.342543169601685/668353813687284/?type=3&theater If you see a herd perfect for you, complete this adoption application and one of our dedicated volunteers will be in touch: https://tilthecowscomehome.org/adopt-an-animal/ Please note that as with all pet adoption organisations, this one too has costs to consider.

If you don’t have the space, you can still support our work and help us make this rescue a reality by donating here: paypal.me/tilthecowscomehomeau

By Luella Botteon

[1] Ashley Capps, 10 Dairy Facts The Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know, Free From Harm, https://freefromharm.org/dairyfacts/.
[2] Ashley Capps, 10 Dairy Facts The Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know, Free From Harm, https://freefromharm.org/dairyfacts/.
[3] Compassion in World Farming, The Life of Dairy Cows, https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/5235185/the-life-of-dairy-cows.pdf
[4] Voiceless the Animal Protection Institute, “The life of the Dairy Cow,” (2015), 21.
[5] RSPCA, “What Happens to Bobbly Calves?” (2016), http://kb.rspca.org.au/what-happens-to-bobby-calves_87.html
[6] Standard B 4.4 and Standard B 4.5
[7] Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines, “Bobby Calf Time Off Feed Standard,” http://www.animalwelfarestandards.net.au/land-transport/bobby-calf-time-off-feed-standard/.
[8] Voiceless the Animal Protection Institute, “The life of the Dairy Cow,” (2015), 26.
[9] Voiceless the Animal Protection Institute, “The life of the Dairy Cow,” (2015), 30.