Last year animal welfare activists targeted pig farming and they’ve had another go at it recently.
The grapevine warned us they would also be on the warpath during calving and lambing and they are. TV1 news last night started with a story on inducing calves in dairy herds.
There are differing views on the practice – some vets say as long as it’s done properly it’s not inhumane, others oppose the practice.
Regardless of whether it is humane or not induction is being phased out anyway.
The reporter said cows are induced to get them producing milk earlier. That’s only part of the story – if cows are too late calving one season they’ll be later, sometimes too late, getting in calf for the following season.
The story also didn’t explain that cows are induced here because unlike most other countries we have seasonal milking.
Overseas where most of the milk produced is for the domestic market herds have some cows calving all through the year so it doesn’t really matter if the calves aren’t produced at a particular time. That happens with town supply herds here too but most of our herds produced milk for export.
Some farms milk through winter for export but most calve in spring, get the cows pregnant in early summer and stop milking by the end of May. This cycle follows grass growth – cows are producing milk when there’s more for them to eat. Grass growth slows or stops altogether over winter.
Cows which are too late for artificial insemination or going to the bull or don’t conceive are usually culled.
When inductions stop altogether there will be more dry cows which will be sent to the works and farmers will be likely to increase the size of their herds to compensate.
No doubt some people will object to that too.