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Motherhood Led Me to Quit Dairy Farming Forever

September 16, 2019

Source Free From Harm
By Free From Harm Staff Writers

The following is Jess Strathdee’s first person account of her years spent working on a dairy farm, and what motivated her to finally leave the industry forever. 

In February 2013, my partner and I moved to live and work on a West Canterbury, New Zealand dairy farm with a 600 head herd. My partner was the second in command on the farm, and I was employed as a relief milker and calf-rearer while starting my studies with Massey University via correspondence.

When I first started milking that year, it was getting to the last months of the season, before the cows were dried off for the winter. They didn’t have a great volume of milk at that time, and the milking would generally only take an easy 2.5 to 3 hours. I remember feeling a sense of pride, solidarity and sisterhood with the cows, honored that I was privileged to handle such a private area and process of their bodies. Except, of course, on dairy farms nothing about an animal’s body or reproductive process is respected as private or belonging to them.

…the dead baby is thrown onto a pile of other dead ones as you don’t have time to do anything else but keep working on automatic pilot.

Oh God, what I numbed myself to.


The Babies

Then calving started. I knew, logically, that cows need babies to produce milk, but I’d never really thought about the fact that those babies are almost immediately taken away from their mothers. On my first morning, I stood in the freezing pens with tiny babies who looked absolutely shattered; still wet with afterbirth, bloody umbilical cords dangling. Mothers who gave birth during snow or storms had their babies taken immediately and didn’t even get to clean them first.

The tiniest babies are tube fed, which involves a tube being shoved down their throats and into their tiny stomachs, and a liter of colostrum poured in. This is traumatizing to watch, and I can’t even imagine how it must feel. Their poor, tiny, soft mouths and throats that should just be suckling small amounts from their mothers while their systems are learning to work, must be so sore from the tubing.

It is not uncommon for day-old babies to have the tube incorrectly forced into their lungs and drown in colostrum within a minute or so, with colostrum pouring back out their noses. When this happens, there are many more fearful and crying babies lined up behind these, so the dead baby is thrown onto a pile of other dead ones as you don’t have time to do anything else but keep working on automatic pilot.

Oh God, what I numbed myself to…

Please read the rest HERE

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with eyes heart open
and hearts taking risk
how much better we can be
when by kindness,

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

7 Comments leave one →
  1. karenlyonskalmenson permalink
    September 16, 2019 8:04 am

    with eyes heart open
    and hearts taking risk
    how much better we can be
    when by kindness,

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 16, 2019 9:42 am

      It is so beautiful, thank you so much, hon, I love it. ❤


      • Karen Lyons kalmenson permalink
        September 16, 2019 11:17 am

        You are so very welcome and thank you 🦜❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. September 16, 2019 1:37 pm

    Fabulous! It makes me feel so good to see that is possible to get involved (the youtube at 2:49′ is excruciating and hard to look at).
    Hugs and have a serene night :-)claudine

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 16, 2019 4:32 pm

      Oh, I know, it is so heartbreaking to watch, I cannot fathom. I will NEVER understand how people can perform such senseless and utterly indifferent and unnecessary acts of cruelty – to watch a mother run after and try to stop the capture of her own baby is horrible, but to actively participate – ??? And I only have to watch it, imagine experiencing it? Very often my faith in humanity is absolutely void. 😦

      Thank you, beautiful Claudine, hugs to you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 17, 2019 2:18 pm

        It’s ME thanking you… my dearest…
        you give me relief because sometimes, I think I’ve become misanthropic… and with good reasons! :-)c

        Liked by 1 person


  1. NZ: “Motherhood Led Me to Quit Dairy Farming”. But What if You Had Not Become A Mother ? – World Animals Voice

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