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You may have noticed that the calves coming into our care are mostly males.  Here are some of the reasons why we are so frequently collecting male calves.

The majority of the calves we are asked to collect come from dairy farms. In the dairy industry, farmers are dependent on females to make profit. This involves continually having the female cow impregnated to keep up their milk supply. If the female cows give birth to male calves, the males will be deemed as “waste” products. This is because they do not generate profit, but instead, generally result in a loss to an average dairy farmer following standard Australian practice. 

It costs farmers $3 per day to feed one calf. If the male calves will not eventually contribute to the farmer’s profits, then it is financially a “waste” for the farmer to continue spending money on the calf. This is the reality of this business. It is for these reasons that farmers insist we collect their calves so efficiently to keep costs low for them. Of all the farms we’ve ever rehomed for, only one has kept the calves with their mothers for one feed a day until rehomed. Some were up to 4 weeks old. The next best situation we saw from the farms was 5 days. The rest have all been 1-3 days.

You may be thinking why farmers don’t just send the calves off to slaughter to save or make money. The reason farmers don’t do this is because the calves on farms are not all born on the same day. If they were, it would be convenient to fill a truck up and send them to an abattoir to be made into veal or used for pet food. Instead, the calves are born throughout the year when impregnated “naturally” or through a month or two period of the year if artificially inseminated by humans. Therefore, if farmers wanted to sell the calves for meat, they’d have to send them off one at a time to keep costs low. This would not be making them any significant extra profit for a lot of extra work. If a farmer wanted to wait for more calves to be born in order to take a truck full to sell, it would require the farmer to spend $3 a day to feed the calves already born. In the end, this would not be financially viable. 

Therefore, many dairy farmers contact us and ask us to collect the calves when each one is born. This works out perfectly for the farmer and gives the calf a chance at life. The farmer is not having to pay to feed the calf, and the calf gets a chance to find a forever home.

If unwanted calves are not sent to the abattoir, it is common practice for dairy farms to dispose of calves through cruel killing methods. It has even been reported that dairy farms kill newborn calves using a hammer to the head. As if this isn’t shocking enough, some Governments in Australia state that using a hammer to bludgeon the calves to death is a “humane” and “suitable” killing method. For Governments to condone the cruel killing of calves is unacceptable. ‘Til The Cows Come Home works with farmers to take in these calves and prevent them from being abused and killed. This is why organisations like us are crucial. If our own Government won’t step in, we must. 

A lot of the calves we collect are jersey calves. Jersey calves are the most common breed in the dairy industry in Australia. The jersey breed plays a part in why farmers do not sell them for meat and why people don’t eat the male calves born in this industry. This is because jersey calves do not have the muscle mass viable for farmers to raise and sell for meat, unlike other breeds. Therefore, jersey calves are the most common calves we collect and rehome. However, jersey cows are great for anyone looking to adopt a calf into their loving family. Jersey calves make such great companion animals for life! Our Founder & CEO Donna Wild has a lot of experience with jersey calves and has said, “they are a smaller bovine breed, are more submissive than many other breeds, and are very friendly with people, making them a perfect addition to any home with the space and the heart to take them in”. 

If you have been wanting to expand your family, then consider adopting one of the many beautiful and loving calves or any of the other farmed animals in our care. Make sure you check out our social media pages to see the latest calves, and other farmed animals, who are looking for their perfect adoption match.

With animal welfare concerns deeply embedded in the dairy farming industry, making sustainable choices in your own life is more important than ever. One way you can do this is by making the switch from dairy milk to plant-based milk. To find out more, read our article about different types of plant-based milk you may want to consider and why it is so important to reduce our intake of animal dairy.

By Luella Botteon