Lactating cows at auctions

In the field, our inspectors frequently see dairy cows who are heavily lactating and have not been milked before being brought to auction. These animals will often not be milked until much later if sold to another farm (in the case of breeder sales), or not at all, if their final destination is the slaughterhouse (in the case of cull cows). Because cull cows spend, on average, three weeks in transport from farm of origin to slaughterhouse, and because Canada, unlike Europe, has no regulations dictating how frequently a cow in transport must be milked, these cows frequently go un-milked for long periods of time.

Heavily lactating cows are in fact specifically brought un-milked to breeding animal auctions as large udders are sought by buyers as a sign of highly productive animals. The absence of milking results in an accumulation of milk in the udder, which is painful to the animals. As milk build-up continues, the udder becomes subjected to increasing pressure.   This pressure can become so great that milk leaks from the udder. The condition is extremely painful and leaves the cow vulnerable to infection as the teat, open to allow milk to flow out, also allows bacteria in.  Conditions routinely present in auctions with floors slick with waste, increase the risk of mastitis – a painful infection and inflammation of the udder.  Yet, no regulations exist requiring auctions – even though specializing in cull cows – to provide milking stations or workers to milk the cows.  As a result, lactating cows are left to suffer.

Dairy cow leaking milk – extremely painful condition.
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4 Responses to Lactating cows at auctions

  1. What is wrong with these people? we definitely need tougher laws for auctions, the dairy industry seems to be the worst, at least beef cows have their happy summer in the fields and don’t go through this torture and don’t produce veal calves. Although \i hate hearing the calves seperated from the mom’s it’s a terrible sound too. There is no way to eat cruelty free really unless you grow your own food and animals and you don’t kill the mice with barbaric ways, it’s too overwhelming to think about.

  2. irene says:

    I hate seeing animals suffer as much as the next person. But I can tell you from experience, a good portion of the lactating cows at auction are not going to be cooperative to get milked by a stranger in a strange place and there is also a good chance she is there because she is a “kicker”. I unfortunately don’t have an answer, but I am sure no one could pay me enough to get my head kicked in by these poor creatures all night, and I am someone who really cares…

    • annecetfa says:

      Hi Irene – the problem is with producers NOT drying their cows out before they are shipped to auction and then the dairy’s being in transport an average of 3 weeks – it’s a flawed system. We are not trying to get people to get in with the cows and milk them. It is a common problem we see across Canada and we are just trying to bring it to light, is all.

      • irene says:

        How long does it take to dry off a cow, after she has just calved? I ask this because in Canada the DFO has recently lowered the amount a farmer can have tested in his milk of Somatic Cell Count (SCC). They did this because milk last longer on the shelf. However, genetically high producing cows may have naturally high SCC, and need to go…

        Also FYI as of Jan. 1st, 2013 ALL dairy farmers in the 5 provinces (P5) lost 1.5 % of quota which is a direct cut in profits, while everything else goes up! May I suggest you direct your efforts to the people who are cutting responsible farmers small profit margins to the point that farmers can’t afford to feed and clean and house them while these cows dry off.

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