For years, ‘Til The Cows Come Home has worked tirelessly to rescue, rehome, and rehabilitate unwanted and mistreated farmed animals. One of our biggest driving forces is achieving our vision, which is to live in a world where no animals are deemed as waste.
Right now, there are farmed animals everywhere that are being mistreated and slaughtered because they are considered “waste” by the animal agriculture industry. At ‘Til The Cows Come Home, we want to change this. We hope that our efforts will be a step forward in achieving a world where no animal is deemed a waste product. But what exactly does “waste” mean for farmed animals and why are animals considered waste? In this article, we sit down with our CEO & Founder, Donna Wild, to answer your queries about our mission.
What do we mean when we say that no animals should be considered waste?
There are a number of farmed animals that are considered “waste” by the animal agriculture industry. One major example of this is male calves. On dairy farms, male calves are often deemed as “waste” as soon as they are born as they do not produce milk and therefore come at a loss to a farm. As a result, it’s general practice on Australian dairy farms to dispose of newborn male calves by using a hammer to the head and putting them in the dumpster. This upsetting practice is why ‘Til The Cows Come Home works so hard to rescue newborn male calves before they are killed. “Calves deemed waste on farms is what we wish to put a stop to,” says Donna. “We help them by collecting them from farmers at 1-3 days old and rearing them so they can be rehomed to a loving forever home.”
But why do dairy farms have to kill the male calves in the first place when they could use them for meat? Understandably, this is a common question. It actually has nothing to do with the taste or nutrition of meat from male calves. The main reason farmers don’t use male calves for meat is that most calves bred on dairy farms have yellowish muscles, as opposed to red or pink. This colouring tends to put people off from eating the meat, and as a result, the calves can only produce unwanted meat.
In addition to calves, we also recuse unwanted hens from egg farms. Regardless of whether they are free-ranged chickens or caged chickens, if they’re on an egg farm, they will typically be gassed to death at 18 months of age because they become “waste”. The hens would otherwise be able to live for another 2-7 years. The worst part is, gassing these hens to death is standard practice under Australian legislation as these hens are legally considered “waste.” Unlike domestic pets, the hens on egg farms have no rights afforded to them under the law. This is where ‘Til The Cows Come Home steps in. We rescue hens from egg farms before they are unnecessarily killed due to being deemed as “waste.” We do this by collecting the unwanted hens and taking them into our care. This involves preparing them for a long, healthy life by taking care of all their veterinary and psychological needs. After these needs are met, we rehome the hens into loving forever homes. “Whether the hens are laying or not, we ensure they are able to happily live out their lives roaming the gardens of loving adopters,” says Donna.
What does this mean for farmers?
We understand that farmers need to sell meat and animal products for their livelihood. We’re not here to take that away from them. We rarely receive animals that are born for meat, because most of the time, they are not considered “waste.” However, every now and then we rescue animals from meat farmers who call us with a sick animal because they are deemed unviable if they receive any veterinary care. Cows, lambs, sheep, and goats that are sold for meat or animal products are not considered “waste” because they are viable to the farmer. Our mission is to help the animals that are unviable, unwanted, and unneeded, and rehome them into loving families before it is too late.
To progress towards our vision where no animal is considered “waste,” we want to see farming practices change so that fewer animals are unwanted and wasted. Instead of unnecessarily killing animals that are considered “waste,” we hope that farms will focus on reducing the number of unneeded animals they breed that will eventually be killed as waste. Donna explains, “it’s one thing if a farmer plans to breed and sell 100% of the animals they rear, but it’s another if literally 100% will be gassed, or if 50% will get a hammer to the head because the farmer has no monetary use for them. What else is possible?”
We believe there are a number of ways that farms can reduce the number of unwanted animals that will eventually be killed and disposed of at a young age. Positive changes in farming practices could include limiting herd sizes, artificial insemination to stop breeding male calves, and maintaining culling records that state the reason for the culling. “The Australian practices, as we’ve seen time and time again, are outdated, unsustainable, and cruel,” says Donna. “What worked 50 years ago isn’t working today. It’s time for farmers to move to kinder, more ethical and sustainable practices. In the meantime, we’re here picking up the lives forgotten along the way. Because they matter as much as the lasting change matters.”
How can I help?
Every day, ‘Til The Cows Come Home works with farmers to rescue animals that would otherwise be killed as a result of being considered “waste.” We hope to spread awareness about animal injustices in the animal agriculture industry to create tangible change in farming practices and reduce unnecessary killings.
We greatly appreciate all the support we receive from our supporters, volunteers, foster carers, and adopters. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to rescue animals like we do now. If you want to help save animals from being deemed “waste” and consequently killed, please consider donating to ‘Til The Cows Come Home, following us on Facebook and Instagram, or adopting an animal in need.