UK Dairy Day is an event where the dairy industry exhibit what they consider the best…
UK Dairy Day is a yearly dairy industry event that attracts thousands of people from the farming world and associated businesses. The dairy farmers show off the cows they’re proud of and one’s mind boggles over what they consider normal, acceptable and even desirable.
The cows – ‘best milkers’ – have their hair clipped for the event and it’s so short you can almost see their skin, those that are mostly white appearing pale pink. To satisfy the industry’s greed for ever more milk, everyone is strangely fixated on making the cows’ udders extremely big – leaving the cows unmilked for as long as possible, their udders so full they can’t walk properly and most of them are dripping, if not outright streaming, milk. The farmers even put gel on the udders so they’re gleaming but for anyone who’s doesn’t share this obsession, it looks simply bizarre – in particular in the sharp contrast with the cows’ skeletal bodies.
Being prey and herd animals, cattle are fairly gentle and would rather run away than attack. Farmers are using the cows’ quiet nature to manipulate them – they put fingers in their noses and squeeze when the cows don’t want to move, kick or step on their feet, slap and flick them. Most of the cows are tied to the rails so tight they can’t move their head much but many of them still try to get closer to their friends and it’s not hard to see they’re seeking comfort in each other.
The obligatory ‘meadow’ photoshoot is set up in the corner with a plastic backdrop and plastic grass. The cows stay quiet there, unsure of their surroundings, but every now and then you hear a cow bellowing somewhere in the holding area and others join in. Many of them only recently gave birth and instead of nurturing their calves, they’re paraded around, the occasional vocal complaint being the only thing they can do in this exploitative industry.
In the large halls, you can see the machinery, equipment and various farming services being offered and you get the full picture of exactly how coldly animals are viewed in the farming industry. It’s all about maximising profits and minimising costs and losses – which mostly means cows and calves dying or being slaughtered sooner than farmers planned to kill them.
All the needless suffering these beautiful gentle creatures are being subjected to could simply end. Go vegan, help us educate people and curb the demand for animal products.
In 2014 Viva! Campaigns investigators went inside UK Dairy Day, the dairy industry’s annual show, to expose the horrors the nation’s ‘best’ cows endure to become a prized commodity at such an event.
When you walk into the halls of the exhibition centre as a visitor of UK Dairy Day what you see really depends on who you are.
If you’re a dairy farmer or farming student, a farm equipment or feed business owner, you probably marvel at the cornucopia of new and exciting technology, treatments for all sorts of common cattle diseases and ailments, feeds that promise to increase milk yield and you’ll probably admire the larger-than-life udders of cows being paraded in the show ring, producing around 40 litres of milk per day (imagine that as 20 of the biggest bottles of fizzy drinks). Some of the cows are then taken to a corner of the hall, where a photographer arranges them in front of a meadow backdrop, the handlers push and shove the cow into the right position on the plastic grass on the floor and voila, you have a smashing photo of your cow on a lush, sunlit meadow.
If, on the other hand, you’re someone who stopped viewing cows as mere production units, what you see is a perverted show of motherhood exploited to the highest degree.