Ashamed to be a dairy farmer today

Yesterday, two industry representatives and a dairy farmer spoke about the treatment of bull calves on Australia’s Radio National program, Bush Telegraph.

It made Victoria’s dairy farmers appear as callous as Big Tobacco and today, I am ashamed to call myself a farmer of any description, let alone one that bludgeons premature calves to death with an axe.

The media feeds voraciously on such hideous depictions and it will be all over the internet and in the mainstream media unless something with even more news appeal happens this weekend.

This is something we can’t deal with by talking about industry standards and so on. Nobody believes that stuff. None of it resonates in the soul. We need to tell people the whole truth and how we feel about it.

And the truth is this:

I will never induce the birth of a calf unless its mother’s life depends on it. In the four years since I took over custodianship of the family farm, this hasn’t happened.

I can barely manage to hear the shot ring out as a suffering animal is euthanased humanely, even though I know it is the right thing to do.

I will always put the quality of our animals’ lives before profit.

We sell every bull calf we can to neighbours who rear them until they are big and powerful steers, even though we sacrifice income to do it this way.

The bottom line is that I will not do anything on the farm that I could not show five-year-old Zoe without any qualms. Our farm is also our home and we could not live with cruelty.

Farmer’s forums are jammed with distressed dairy farmers this morning and I spoke long into the night about it with another yesterday. I am ashamed yet I am proud to know I am not alone in this. If you are a farmer reading this, please add your voice to the news forums and don’t be afraid to tell them how your heart guides you.