It’s Cow Appreciation Day – a perfect day to raise awareness about the welfare issues facing cows and take a look at some of the important work being done by OneKind to improve their lives.

Cows are sentient and emotional beings with a range of complex needs to be fulfilled so they can live content lives, free from suffering. Sadly, like other farmed animals, they are largely treated as commodities in our society and face a life of poor mental and physical wellbeing on intensive meat and dairy farms.

The Plight of Dairy Cows

Bred to produce large quantities of milk, dairy cows on intensive farms can suffer from lameness, mastitis i.e. inflammation of the udder, and infertility due to the physical stress of milk production on their bodies.

Sadly, dairy cows are also artificially inseminated to ensure they give birth and lactate regularly enough to produce the large quantities of milk that the industry demands. Male cows used for semen production don’t have it easy either. Many are kept alone all the time, so they have very little social interaction, exercise or interest in their lives.

Tragically, dairy cow mothers are also separated from their calves shortly after birth, sometimes within hours – and these calves are either killed soon after or raised for the beef and veal industries.

Outside of the UK, calves are often forced to undergo long journeys in the live exports trade. Thankfully, the Scottish Government no longer exports calves, following a judicial review brought by Compassion in World Farming, that we supported. However, adult cows are still forced to undergo grueling journeys from the UK to other countries.

The Live Exports Trade

Cow transportation

Cows and other farm animals that are transported long distances to other countries face a host of serious welfare issues. Cramped together on trucks and ships for hours on end, animals are often left hungry and dehydrated and, in some cases, do not survive the journey.

Disease is often rampant too, and animals can overheat or face freezing temperatures, depending on the season.

The dangerous nature of shipping large numbers of animals across the ocean also means that the live exports trade has been subject to several disasters. Just last month, over 15,000 sheep tragically drowned after a live export ship sunk in Sudan.

What OneKind is doing

We are committed to working towards a future where cows and other farmed animals are treated as the sentient individuals they are, rather than commodities to be exploited.

We encourage and support people to make food choices that do not contribute to this exploitation, by transitioning towards a vegan diet where possible. However as long as people continue to eat meat and dairy, we will work to improve the lives of farmed animals.

The Good Food Nation Bill

Last month, the Good Food Nation Bill passed, with a landmark inclusion of animal welfare in the Bill’s text. This was a significant campaign win that we fought for alongside the Scottish Food coalition. It means that we can now hold the Scottish government responsible for their commitment to improving farm animal welfare.

We will continue working to influence the upcoming plans following the Bill being passed, so that this legislation has a tangible impact on the lives of cows and other farmed animals in Scotland.

Ban Live Exports

Following years of campaigning on this issue, we welcomed the banning of calf exports from Scotland and the UK and continue urging the UK and Scottish governments to put in place a complete ban on live exports.

Last year, we launched a petition calling on the Scottish Government to introduce a live exports ban at the same as the UK and Welsh Governments and as soon as possible.

And, last month, we joined Ban Live Exports Day, alongside other organisations like Compassion in World Farming to call on the UK government to follow through on their commitment to finally ban this practice.

What you can do to help

Cow in field

In the face of all this suffering, it can be easy to feel helpless and not know where to start to help change things. The good news is there are some simple things you can do to impact the lives of cows and other farmed animals. Collectively, if enough of us do them together, we can create real change for animals.

Transition towards a vegan diet if you can

With tons of online resources nowadays, along with plenty of tasty supermarket and restaurant options, eating a diet that is kinder for animals has never been easier!

We understand that some people might feel daunted about trying out a plant-based diet if you’ve never done so before. Here are some common myths about veganism that we debunked earlier this year.

If you’d like to try out veganism and don’t know where to start, check out Veganuary, which has handy nutrition guides, tips and recipes that are great for anyone starting out.

Take action online by joining our Animal Advocates

Through easy actions, such as signing petitions, letter writing, emails and posting on social media, Advocates help us to lobby decision-makers on animal welfare issues.

You can expect to receive an email with a couple of tasks each month that can easily be done from home. It only takes 10 minutes!

Sign up to be a OneKind Animal Advocate here.

Help fund OneKind’s work for cows and other farmed animals

We are a small charity and rely on the generosity of our supporters to do the work we do for animals. Your donations go directly towards work like our Ban Live Exports Campaign and lobbying decision makers on the Good Food Nation Bill.

Help fund our campaigns here, or you can support us regularly by becoming a member of OneKind here.