This calf is wearing one of the many creations used to keep them from drinking their mothers’ milk, even though the calves are the only ones who actually need it.
Cow’s milk has just the right amount and proportions of nutrients and hormones for calves to grow. We humans have no need for all of those hormones, and we don’t need to consume cow’s or any other species’ milk.
But this poor calf, and millions of others like her, are denied what they desperately need, because we humans have decided we want their mothers’ milk for ourselves.
And like any mammal, cows only produce milk when they have a baby. So, in the dairy industry, the females are repeatedly impregnated, over and over, to get and keep them lactating.
In addition to separating and otherwise keeping their calves away from their milk, these repeated impregnations result in an excess of calves that the dairy industry simply cannot use (including the males who will never produce milk for the dairy). The surplus calves are typically sent to auction to be killed as babies or youngsters, often for veal, and sometimes they are simply discarded (killed) right away.
All of this cruel exploitation – the repeated impregnations, separation of calves from mothers, killing of the excess (and male) calves, and killing of all the dairy cows themselves once their milk production declines – all of it is necessarily a part of producing dairy at any meaningful scale. There is no way around this cruelty, and there is no way to “humanely” exploit sentient animals for these products. It inherently involves immense harm, suffering and premature death for all of the animals.
So, is it fair for us to harm them and take their milk? Do you really need to consume dairy products?
Of course not. In fact, for the vast majority of human evolution we never consumed any dairy (other than as babies from our own human mothers). It’s only recently (~7,500 years ago) that we decided to start drinking the milk of other animals.
But it’s not necessary AT ALL, and, in fact, dairy consumption is associated with a higher risk of cancers and (ironically) bone problems too. Remember, milk contains hormones, including sex and growth hormones. After all, it’s meant to double a calf’s weight very rapidly. But we don’t need to double our weight, and we should be avoiding these hormones.
Please keep in mind how your consumption choices impact the animals, and ditch dairy (and other animal products) forever. There are delicious plant-based versions for virtually anything you could want, including vegan ice creams, milks, cheeses, yogurts, and the like. Please be mindful in how you consume, and (at a minimum) do not support this unnecessary violence against vulnerable animals by going vegan.