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Breastfeeding has put me off cow's milk and made me feel so sorry for dairy cows. Is this crazy?

(12 Posts)
funwithfondue Thu 01-Oct-09 13:14:36

As the title says: I've been breastfeeding my dd (first child) exclusively for seven months now. A rocky start, but I love it.

I've drank cow's milk all my life. I used to drink it by the glass; in recent years, I only have it in hot drinks and on cereal every morning.

I've never been a vegetarian, but do try to buy ethical/fairtrade animal products.

What's made me feel so sad for dairy cows, and putting me off drinking milk, is that strong yearning, physical 'need' to breastfeed when dd is due a feed. Or when I wake in the morning and she's had fewer night feeds, so my boobs are really full.
Anyone who bf will know this sensation, and that the relief when your baby latches on is like having an itch scratched!

Well dairy cows, they only get to 'feed' twice a day, I think? And even then it's synthetic, because they're being milked by a machine, not feeding their calves. I see them all moo-ing plaintitively at the field gate at milking time, and think how desperately they must want to feed their young, and for physical relief.

I'm aware this post might sound naive and probably laughable, but I'm also sleep deprived, so humour my poor little brain, which has been processing these thoughts for a few days, and tell me if you've ever felt the same.

Should I give up dairy in sympathy for the cows? Or are the cows fine and not suffering at all?

PS. Why do ethical vegetarians continue to drink/eat dairy when cows are possibly suffering from not feeding their young/bring milked more frequently?

thenameiwantedwastaken Thu 01-Oct-09 13:52:14

I'm not connected to farming in any way so I really don't know the answer to this but at a guess I'd say that the cows probably aren't horribly engorged and in pain before a milking because they will be milked at the same time every day and their breasts will match this demand. You may feel full after fewer night feeds but if your dd started sleeping through the night your supply would drop within a few days.

Actually, since I had my little one I've had similar feelings of sympathy for animals. With milked cows I feel more sorry for them because they should be breastfeeding and having a nice cuddle with their calves instead of having them stolen from them and having to feed a machine. And when I eat meat I think of the poor baby animal being torn away from its mother and how heartbreaking that must be. But maybe I am anthropomorphising (sp?) and also hormonal and sleep deprived!

I haven't actually gone veggie/vegan because I don't have the courage/strength to overhaul my diet, think I should keep my own nutrition up when bf-ing*, and I really like bacon and cheese bagels!

*Any Vegetarian Society members watching - yes, I know you can have a perfectly balanced vegan diet, especially if you eat hemp oil, but it is challenging to work out, time consuming and difficult to persuade family members to accomodate etc.

wellbalanced Thu 01-Oct-09 13:56:14

Thats how the cows have been raised, They dont know any different? There job (amongst others) is to provide milk, And they do a pretty good job!!!

MOST dairy cows will not suffer at all.

If you dont want to drink milk don't but it won't make any differance to the cows at the gate! grin

funwithfondue Thu 01-Oct-09 17:08:57

Thank you. I've been out this afternoon since posting my question, and on reflection, thought I must sound like a bit of a nutter.

Having a baby and sleep deprivation leads to many strange thoughts...

WoTmania Thu 01-Oct-09 18:52:06

I know what you mean. I used to want to keep organic goats for their milk but couldn't do it any more.
And you know when you see cows waddling along to the milking shed? I have so much sympathy for them.
However, I din't think you need to boycott dairy products as any well managed herd will be milked regularly etc.

trellism Thu 01-Oct-09 19:02:56

You can probably separate your feelings as a breastfeeding mother from your concern for the cow's welfare. It is anthropomorphic to assume that a cow feels the same way as you do, although that is not to say that a cow does not suffer when her calf is taken away, nor that you should not buy organic dairy products (if you choose to) that are produced with higher standards of animal welfare.

Being compared with a cow was one thing that sort of put me off breastfeeding, but I realised that cows and humans are not the only mammals in the world.

You may as well identify with duck billed platypuses, lemurs or bunny rabbits.

marenmj Fri 02-Oct-09 13:47:20

FYI, in industrialized farms cows can choose to be milked "on demand".

Apparently these systems are VERY common on dairy farms and the cow can visit the milking machine any time they like. Ignoring the annoying voice-over, the clip is very interesting.

The comments reinforce that happy cows DO produce more milk, and that this is common practice on "industrial" farms. The local farm down the road? Maybe, maybe not. I dunno.

FiveGoMadonTheDanceFloor Fri 02-Oct-09 14:03:52

Our cows are very happy thank you and if you drink milk form M&S then a lot of it is from us.

If you want to know more about farming then can I suggest that you visit a farm on Farm Sunday, once a year ordinary farms (not the petting farms) open their doors and fields to show what they do and answer any questions that you may want to ask.

In the meantime feel free to ask here.

LentilsRMe Fri 02-Oct-09 14:18:21

You are not mad.

I feel exactly the same. I have been a vegan for 10 years and vegetarian for 8 before that.

It's actually not hard at all! smile

SardineQueen Fri 02-Oct-09 14:21:12

I know exactly what you mean! The whole BF thing does make you feel for dairy cows a bit...

Not that I've given up buying milk though!

I suppose bottom line is if you want to use animal products you have to be prepared to, well, use animals. Best to think about things and try to buy products with higher animal welfare standards.

But yes I feel a bit sorry for them too hmm smile

DitaVonCheese Fri 02-Oct-09 18:02:45

I felt really sorry for the calves when we visited a farm the other week. They were so desperate to nurse and had nothing to suck on I couldn't help thinking about how sad DD would be if she was made to stop nursing (she is a boob-monster).

I know at least one vegetarian who also doesn't consume any dairy for ethical reasons - something to do with the way they're bred to produce far too much milk or something but I'm afraid I wasn't really listening/have forgotten blush

bodeniites Fri 02-Oct-09 18:20:17

i am a vegetarian but i do drink cows milk as i really love it but i do feel so sorry for the cows it must be hard for them and dont tell me cows dont have feeling its obvious they love their young i wish i could stop drinking it hypocrite that i am

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