Most cows are kept in cramped enclosures in dairies, and pumped with antibiotics and hormones to produce more milk, exposing consumers to diseases, said a report of India’s apex animal protection organisation.
The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) surveyed 451 milk-producing centres in 10 states, a reality check of distressing conditions in which cows are treated as milk-producing machines.
The survey covered 49 dairies in Rajasthan’s four districts — Alwar, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner – housing 1232 cattle. Bringing out the home truths behind India’s ‘white revolution’, FIAPO demands regulation of milk-producing dairies by the Centre and state governments.
The survey was done from June 2016 to March 2017 and the report — CATTLE-OGUE — was released on October 26.
“It is not just the animals which are getting exploited but also the consumers of milk and dairy products. Poor conditions recorded in the investigation raise serious questions on the safety and quality of milk in the market,” said FIAPO director Arpan Sharma.
Cows live in cramped, poorly ventilated and dark enclosures in more than one-quarter of the dairies; injuries from slipping in their excreta are common – 64.1% dairies have “ill, injured and distressed cattle,” the report said.
“Poor veterinary care and illegal use of drugs and hormones like oxytocin to increase the milk let-down are prevalent. An evident delinking of humane treatment of cattle as sentient beings is being noticed as a result of the rising demand for milk and milk products,” the report said, raising a question mark on the sustainability of India’s global leadership in milk production.
Cattle are separated from calves (male calves die within the first week in 25% of dairies), receive little veterinary care and are injected with drugs in almost 50% of the dairies, the report revealed. Unproductive cattle are sold to farmers or slaughterhouses by 62.9% dairies.
A shocking revelation was the use of khalbaccha, an effigy made by stuffing a dead calf with hay. “Because of strong maternal bonds, the mother often stops lactating if the calf has died. Hence a khalbacchas are used to mimic the presence of a calf and continue milking.”
Dairy cattle in urban areas get little access to soft ground in 78% dairies. “We have urged state governments to outlaw keeping of cattle within municipal limits and also enact conditions for keeping animals in other areas,” Sharma said.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is silent on conditions that need to prevail at the point of milk production. “FSSAI regulations pertain only to milk processing, which is only half the story. The Centre needs to amend the Registration of Cattle Premises Rules 1978 to introduce conditions for the holding of cattle in commercial dairies,” Sharma said.
Under ‘Operation Flood’ in 1970, milk production in the country increased from 22 million tonnes in 1970 to 104 million tonnes in 2008.
Key findings in Rajasthan dairies:
•Male calves are routinely sold for slaughter, or abandoned on the streets. Almost 43% dairies did not have any surviving male calf.
•Calves are separated from mothers almost immediately after birth, so that the milk can be sold.
•A hormone, called oxytocin, is used to keep the mothers lactating; this is painful to cattle.
•87% dairies in Rajasthan were seen to keep their cattle tied to short tethers at all times.
•Almost 52% of the dairies had hard flooring, causing the animals to suffer from lameness and joint problems.
•Because of exploitative practices, animals were going “dry”. This is the main reason why India is the world’s 2nd largest beef exporter in the absence of raising beef cattle.
Date : 30 October 2017