Animals Australia targets bobby calves

James Nason, 14/11/2011

Animals Australia has launched a new campaign against animal agriculture, this time focusing its attentions on the treatment of bobby calves in the dairy industry. 

Bobby calves are bull calves born to dairy cows which are sent to abattoirs for slaughter within 30 days of birth.

An estimated 700,000 bobby calves are processed within Australia each year.

Animals Australia launched a series of national newspaper advertisements across Australia over the weekend drawing public attention to what it calls the dairy industry’s “long held secret”.

“Many milk drinkers are surprised to learn that, just like people, cows must give birth in order to produce milk,” the advertisement reads in part.

“To maximise production, dairy cows are impregnated once every year. Most of their babies – called ‘bobby calves’ – are then killed.”

The campaign specifically targets the feeding of bobby calves prior to slaughter.

The dairy industry recently agreed to a national standard for the slaughter of bobby calves, which sets the maximum time between a bobby calf’s last feed and its slaughter at 30 hours.

The industry’s decision to set a maximum time-frame came after federal, State and Territory agriculture ministers failed to reach an agreement on the issue during the Primary Industries Ministerial Council meeting in Melbourne on October 28.

Animals Australia’s view is that 30 hours is too long. Its executive director Glenys Oogjes told ABC Radio National last Friday that calves should be trucked and slaughtered on the same day, if they are not going to be fed at the abattoir.

The organisation’s integrated print, email and web-based campaign includes video footage of calves being thrown from trucks and being crowded into small pens in abattoirs.

The campaign encourages consumers to send letters expressing opposition to bobby calf slaughter to Dairy Australia, to donate $80 or more to Animals Australia to receive a soft Bobby Calf plush toy and adoption certificate, and to avoid dairy products in favour of alternative sources of protein and calcium.

The advertisements employ the same strategy used in previous Animals Australia campaigns of ‘humanising’ animals by giving them names and drawing on emotional appeals to encourage consumers to view livestock in the same way they view people.

Dairy Australia’s animal health and welfare advisory group chair David Basham told ABC Radio National last Friday the 30 hour maximum period agreed to by industry was supported by scientific research.

He said Dairy Australia had recently analysed NLIS scanning records over nine months at one plant which showed that the 65pc of cattle were slaughtered within 24 hours of leaving the property.

The industry was now working on developing extra management strategies for calves between the 24 hour and maximum 30 hour period.

To view the advertisement click here


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