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Griffin Centre
20 Genge St, Civic


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Meat Cows

Approximately 8 million meat cows are killed every year in Australia. While cows can live naturally for up to 25 years, the average lifespan of a meat cow is 15-20 months. Grazing cows are often exposed to high temperatures and droughts, and there is very little shelter and shade from weather extremes in the sparse paddocks. As a result of these conditions up to 18% of cattle generally die out in the field each year. In Australia almost 1/3 of grazing cows are ‘finished’ in feedlots for the last 3-12 months of their life. Feedlots are cramped, bare paddocks where the cows are confined while they are fattened on a purely grain (and therefore unnatural) diet.


There are approximately 6,000 meat cows in the ACT (see

Most Australians were appalled by the shocking footage revealed in 2011 of the horrific slaughter of Australian cattle in Indonesian slaughterhouses. Footage obtained from the Hawkesbury Valley abattoir in NSW and broadcast on the ABC’s Lateline programme in early February 2012 shows that slaughtering cattle and other animals in Australia can be just as barbaric.

For more information about animal welfare issues for meat cows, please see

Dairy Cows

Almost two million Australian cows are impregnated each year, often by artificial insemination, to produce milk. The male calves born as a result of this process are considered a ‘waste’ product because they can never be impregnated and produce milk. These newborns (known as ‘bobby calves’) are often killed on site or trucked to abattoirs for slaughter when they are no more than 5 days old. Before being killed these young animals are deprived of food for well over a day. Normally at this young age calves would feed several times a day and consume up to 4 litres each day of their mothers’ milk. As the dairy industry is unable to predetermine the sex of calves born to dairy cows, 700,000 males calves are born and then killed in this way each year in Australia. For more information on bobby calves, please visit Animals Australia's website.

Being constantly pregnant or producing milk wreaks havoc on cows’ bodies and they can suffer from mastitis and lameness due to oversized and heavy udders. Mastitis is the inflammation of the udder and affects most dairy cows. Common indications of mastitis include flakes, clots, or pus in the milk. As a high proportion of dairy cows have mastitis, there's a good chance the dairy milk you buy contains pus.

The dairy industry would have us believe that milk and milk products are a necessary component of our diets for healthy bones. According to the World Health Organisation, however, healthy bones can be achieved by increasing physical activity, reducing intake of animal protein, and increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Victoria produces over 60% of Australia's cow milk, which is 5 times as much cow milk as the next State (NSW, 12.3%). The ACT has one cow milk processing factory, but no known dairy herd.  Canberra Milk declares on its website that 'Canberra Milk is the only milk made here locally in Canberra'. In May 2012 Canberra Milk was asked what 'making' milk meant, and whether Canberra Milk is actually produced from dairy cows  in Canberra (or trucked in from NSW to be processed here in Canberra). To date, Canberra Milk has not replied.  Note that the ACT does not figure in Dairy Australia's 'milk production report'.

Veal – young meat cows

Not all male calves are slaughtered a few days after birth. Many are turned into ‘veal calves’ and are raised in a crowded barn or (in countries other than Australia) a ‘veal crate’ which is so small the animal cannot turn around, lie down, or stretch. This is designed to limit the young animal’s movement so the meat becomes more ‘tender’ in order to produce ‘gourmet’ style veal. Yet even the meat industry admits that Australian veal meat is ‘of an unpredictable quality, as...Bobby calves are often exposed to quite high levels of stress’  (

calf 1

Calves separated from their mums on a dairy farm in NSW (Photo by Karen Vincent)

In 2009-10 approximately 800,000 calves were slaughtered for human consumption in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Livestock’ Year Book of Australia 2009-10).

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Young calves on a dairy farm in NSW (Photo by Karen Vincent)

By consuming dairy products such as milk and cheese, you are supporting the above practices involving male and female cattle. Please try ‘cruelty-free’ dairy alternatives such as soy, oat, or rice milk, or non-dairy sour cream or cream cheese. There are many different brands of plant milk, so try a few to find which ones you like.

For more information on dairy cows please visit and



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