Male Calves

Calves when born to dairy cows are separated from their mothers because it is unprofitable to let them feed on their mothers’ milk – they may be allowed to
suckle for only a short duration, primarily to stimulate milk secretion from the cow, otherwise they may be fed a little colostrums in a bucket. As soon as the flow of
milk starts, the calf is taken away and tied separately.

Milk continues to be produced in this way as the consumers (not the calves)
continue to enjoy milk and milk products. On an average 10 litres of milk is taken away from a cow or buffalo daily. So for obvious reasons female calves are raised to repeat the process lasting for as long as they produce milk which is a maximum of 12 to 14 years

Cruel Cheating of Female Calves

Female calves are raised on minimum mother’s milk and a milk replacer.

The new and ultimate cruelty the dairy industry perpetrates in India is to feed female calves a milk replacer and take away the milk from cows and she-buffaloes for human consumption.

Common ingredients in commercial milk replacers include a combination of ingredients such as whey, protein concentrate (from whey, soy, wheat, potato, whereas the most recent abroad consists of red blood cell, plasma and fish proteins), animal and vegetable fat, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Ingredients such as skim milk, butter milk and whole milk are not usually included in the formulation due to their cost and if they are used they are less than 1%.

In short, it is downright unethical to steal the milk meant for the calves, unnatural to feed animal products to them and increase their weight at the rate of up to 700 grams per day.

Male Calves Uncared For

Economically unviable, male calves are not at all cared for and generally 80% die due to deliberate malnutrition and hunger, whereas some are immediately got rid of by being abandoned and they too die of starvation or are illegally slaughtered, usually for their leather. Believe it or not, some butchers unasked for the favour, steal the newly born male calves at night.

Keeping male calves adds to the cost of dairy operations – with nil monetary returns. In 2005 animal activists saw unwanted male calves stuffed in gunny bags being thrown out of a moving train at Mahim Creek, Mumbai. The carcasses had been skinned for leather.

Leopards frequently straying and attacking humans in the woods near the Aarey Milk Colony (Mumbai) gives rise to the suspicion that male calves are surreptitiously abandoned there. However, it was most surprising that a diet analysis conducted in 2014-15 using undigested material from leopard scats (poop) found 13 prey species of which a quarter were dogs. The study concluded that 35 leopards living in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park roam in the Aarey Milk Colony.

Talking of wildlife it is unfortunately not uncommon although illegal, for male calves to be used as live bait to trap leopards and other big cats that stray into human dwellings.

These male calves can not when they are older plough land or pull carts like tough desi bulls. They are foreign, such as the Holstein-Friesian breed, and only suitable for producing large quantities of milk.

Religious reverence for calves in India does not allow males to be fattened for veal – calf meat is illegal any way. Abroad, unwanted and discarded male calves are called “bobby calves” and are raised and killed for veal. Bred annually so their mothers generate milk, they are destined for sale or slaughter when less than 30 days old and under 80 kgs in weight.

However, there is a different mind-set for cow and buffalo male calves. By 2018 many people particularly in Punjab had started buying male buffalo calves (katta is a male calf, katti a female) from farmers by paying them Rs 1,500/- for 3 month old calves which weigh 40 to 50 kgs, or Rs 4,000/- for 9 month old calves which weigh 100 to 120 kgs each. These calves were raised for slaughter – a 2 year old animal weighing 400 kgs can fetch Rs 24,000/- @ Rs 60 per kg.

Milk production-cum-consumption and male infanticide are inseparable. Also, milk and meat are two sides of the same coin.

Page last updated on 30/04/20