Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Inducing premature labour in cows

A press release from the Green Party of New Zealand condemns the practice of inducing calving so herds can calve together and to maximise milking times. TVNZ News reports
Dairy farmers deliberately birth thousands of calves prematurely each year in a practice known as "inducing". The vet gives the cows two injections, so their calves will be born 8-12 weeks premature. It's done to get all cows in a herd to calve at the same time, and produce milk earlier. It means many calves are born dead, but some are born still alive and have to be euthanised.

...The issue has become an ethical dilemma for New Zealand's $6 billion dairy industry, with approximately 200,000 cows induced in New Zealand each year. Farmers say it's a valuable management tool, but are divided on its use.
The Green Party calls for banning of the practice
Dairy farmers in New Zealand routinely inject cows in order that calves are born – dead or alive – months early. This practice is used so that milking can start earlier.

“This inhumane and cruel practice could put our international dairying reputation at risk,” said Ms Kedgley.

...“Under the Veterinary Code, vets have a specific duty to protect animals and alleviate their suffering.

“By dispensing drugs that allow induction to take place for economic rather than animal welfare reasons, vets are deliberately inflicting suffering on healthy animals.

“This surely is a breach of their code.”
Here is a description of the technique; why and how it is done. It is used maintain seasonal patterns for future calving.

Interestingly the Green Party supports induced abortion in pregnant women, and as part of their women's health policy promote increased access to abortion. Women's Policy point 6.26 states the Green Party will
Review abortion services to ensure equity of access for women throughout New Zealand.
Elsewhere on the website Kedgley speaks approvingly of the battle to legalise abortion.

I recognise that a large number of secularly minded people approve of abortion. But approving human abortion for the convenience of the mother while at the same time opposed aborting and euthanasing (newborn) calves for the convenience of the farmer is not just morally confused, it is morally corrupt. Of course opposition to such practice reveals Green ideology.

5 comments:

  1. Wow. That's really crazy. Question, how do you feel about someone who is OK with the reverse. For instance, I have no problem with them doing this with cows because bovine are not human. Also, doing so may actually be better for the overall herd, which is more important, and, well, I like veal, so I clearly don't have a moral problem.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Two things
    1- inducing late calving cows, gives them a chance to get in calf again on time and so extends their productive life. The alternative is that the adult cow is culled at the end of the season as empty [not pregnant] or expected to calf just too late.
    A cow has to get in calf and deliver that calf in order to lactate.

    2-yes isnt it deeply ironic that so many people could be so upset about about animal welfare with no understanding of the context, yet be so quiet about killing off 17-18,000 babies per year in NZ

    ReplyDelete
  3. My nine year old son and I watched the story. We felt distressed at seeing animals struggling to breathe knowing that they were going to die due to being induced. But that was the point of the story wasn't it? This was the desired effect. I could not help but marvel that a practice, that was reported as being 30 - 40 years old, was so suddenly an issue and head line news when in fact the industry is well down the path to addressing this practice, though not as far as some would like. What occurred to me immediately was the question: would the network have run the same kind of story on human abortion? of course not. So, while I did not like seeing newly born calves struggle to breathe as they died slowly I refused to feel the outrage that some may have wanted me to when I know full well that as a nation we are only too happy for this to happen every day in our hospitals and clinics around the country. That is a far greater outrage and, all too often, it is done for reasons no better than the herd management reasons of the farmer: it is what is convenient and expedient. In fact to be provocative one could mount an argument that the farmer is more justified in his practice because there is no comparison between a farmed, domesticated animal and a human being and yet political correctness asks us to elevate the life of the animal to a higher status in our concern than that we hold for a mother and her unborn child. Finally, if it is a womans' right to choose what she does with her body (so the mantra goes) then surely the farmer has the right over the herd?

    ReplyDelete
  4. jc_freak, the reverse depends on how you perceive the treatment of the cows. My point was that if one thinks it wrong for animals it is at least as wrong for humans. As per Blair's comment.

    As for your position I have some thoughts but need a little more time than I have at the moment so hopefully will comment or post on it later.

    ReplyDelete
  5. jeremy, thanks for that added information, if the option is inducing the cow or culling it then that needs to be taken into consideration by the opponents and seems to favour the farmers.

    ReplyDelete

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