11th July 2023

Dairy’s Dirty Secrets: Sandra Higgins of Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary and Go Vegan World discusses RTE’s Primetime Investigation of the Irish Dairy Industry with Gerry Kelly on LMFM

Unfortunately, those of us in the animal rights movement have seen footage of the appalling suffering we inflict on other animals in the animal agriculture industry, many, many times. Let’s hope that viewers who are new to this information learn what they are paying for when they are not vegan.

Dairy’s Dirty Secrets are Many

Dairy’s Dirty Secrets extend beyond the unwanted male calves who are sent via live export to countries to be used as veal. It’s time we stopped that the problem exists elsewhere or is ringfenced to live export. Dairy is inherently unjust, as is every form of animal use. It begins with the extraction of semen from bulls to be used in the artificial insemination of cows. Like humans, cows only produce milk when they have given birth. Because there is a demand for their milk, their calves are taken from them, and their milk sold at a profit to human consumers. Male calves do not produce milk. They are regarded as an ‘unwanted byproduct’ of the industry. Ireland sends them in their hundreds of thousands every year, via live export ships, to be confined, fed a poor diet, and killed by the veal industry. Live export was the topic of RTE’s investigation.

The females who remain on Irish dairy farms suffer from separation from their mothers. They follow their mothers into a life of repeated insemination, pregnancy, loss of their calves and continual lactation. This takes an enormous toll on their bodies and they are slaughtered at a fraction of their natural lifespan when their milk production declines.

How can we Fix this problem?

RTE attempted to present some solutions to the problems it portrayed such as sexed semen, which attempts to prevent male calves being born. That is not a solution to the injustice of animal use, or the many problems associated with animal agriculture. Cormac was rescued and came to live at Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary with us because he was born male on a farm that used sexed semen. The other solution proposed by the programme was an improvement in welfare standards. That will never be a solution to the violation of other animals’ rights. Let’s look at what animal welfare means. It is an industry term that refers to the legal breeding of sentient animals into a life where they are deliberately killed.

It refers to the minimum standards by which other animals can be owned, commodified, and exploited. It refers to standard legal practices such as hyperconfinement, mutilation, electrocution, gassing, live mincing, scalding, separating mothers from their babies, and breaking the bonds between animals who know each other. It includes taking their milk and eggs, and it includes killing them. In contrast to animal rights, animal welfare is not only irrelevant but a facade that hides the root injustice and is thus entirely complicit in their exploitation. What matters is that they are unjustly owned and that their only value is to their owner when, in reality, the value of a life matters most to the one living that life.

Dairy’s Dirty secrets exist because the dairy industry exists to cater for the demands of those of us who are not vegan for dairy products on our shop shelves. If RTE had shown standard legal practice on most dairy farms from the beginning of milk production (extraction of semen for AI) to the end when they are killed, viewers would be equally appalled.

Other Animals Need Rights, Not Welfare

There wasn’t a single Animal Rights Representative on RTE’s show last night. Saddest of all was not the violent brutality, appalling and all as it is. We all know that it is endemic where we have animal use. It was the normalisation of our dominance over the lives of other animals who are viewed as commodities, who are selectively bred to be used and killed, and the welfarist groups purporting to be their advocates who failed utterly to mention their rights and who support taking their young lives from them for flesh.

There is only one way to ‘fix’ this and that is to be vegan and stop paying for it.

Sandra Higgins discusses these points and more on LMFM with Gerry Kelly.