Yesterday, a team of EonA was invited to a meeting of dairy farmers who supply their milk to Cono, that uses the milk to make Beemster Cheese. For Cono the well-being of the cows have a very high priority. For example, 95% of the cows are grazing, for which Cono rewards the farmers with a bonus. We wanted to talk to them about the welfare of calves.
Eyes on Animals is known as a proponent of calves staying with their mothers, and will therefore gladly discuss this issue with farmers. It was a lively and fascinating discussion about the advantages and disadvantages and especially what it would ‘cost’ to achieve this. Not only financially, but also the extra care aspect. It became clear that keeping calves with their mothers at this time is not seen as a real possibility by most of these farmers.
We have also stated emphatically that the industry, such as banks, supermarkets and dairyshops, should have the willingness to make such projects financially feasible and attractive. We think it’s quite disappointing that Cono states they’re not ready for this, whereas supermarketchain Marqt seriously went to work on this. And of course in this case, the consumers play a role. They have to be willing to pay more for the milk from cows with suckling calves.
We also talked about the bull calves, which are a consequence of the simple fact that a cow must annually bear a calf to continue to produce milk. EonA abhors the way in which male calves are being dragged around and then spend their lives in broilers. The few months that they live they spend in barren pens on a concrete slatted floor, they have little room to maneuver and they may never go outside. In short, no space for natural behavior. Some farmers agreed with us on this.
In summary, it was an exciting meeting in which we were able to, back and forth, get and give some insight about the(ethical) choices that should / could be made in the dairy industry. We hope that this discussion will make dairy farmers start to think about this difficult matter.
We are very grateful to Cono for inviting us.