CHENNAI: The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) is demanding that central and state governments regulate dairy farms in India after a study conducted by it has revealed the shocking state in which cattle is kept and the inhumane practices that are followed in these farms.
The results of FIAPO’s investigative report ‘CATTLE-OGUE’ were made public on October 26. The study, which kicked off towards the end of 2016, was carried across 415 dairy farms in the country.
“We picked the major milk producing states in India to attempt to look at the White Revolution from the point of view of the welfare of the animals,” says Arpan Sharma, director, FIAPO.
The states surveyed include Tamil Nadu, UP, Rajasthan, Telangana, Gujarat, Punjab, MP, Maharashtra, and Haryana.
“We also looked at farms in Delhi,” says Sharma.
“In every place, the FIAPO team worked with local animal welfare organisations to conduct the study.”
In TN, the investigation covered 35 dairies with 1,293 cattle in four districts — Chennai city periphery, Kancheepuram, Viluppuram and Madurai.
The White Revolution in India was brought by the launch of Operation Flood in 1970 – setting high milk production targets, under which the milk production in the country increased from 22 million tonne in 1970 to 104 million tonne in 2008.
“Due to the boom that came about due to the White Revolution, milk yield had greatly increased but the cost being borne — by the animals as well as people – is extremely high,” says Sharma, adding that the major red flags are in urban areas where the animals are kept in terrible condition, raising a very big question mark on the quality of milk being produced.
“Unfortunately, there is no regulation for running a dairy farm, so anyone can open one irrespective of whether he has the space to house the animals,” says Sharma.
Also, no male calves were found in any of the farms. “They are sent for slaughter soon after birth or starved to death.
In some cases it may be let loose outside where it will either die or become a stray bull,” says Sharma, adding that since the mother will stop lactating, chemicals and hormones like oxytocin are used to let the milk down.
“Another terrible practice is when the dead calf is stuffed with hay to fool the mother into thinking the calf is alive so that she will continue lactating,” he says.
Almost everywhere, the animals were tied up in one place all 24 hours. “The bovine is an animal that has biologically evolved to roam and graze around, but we have created conditions of industrial factory farming despite saying we worship the cow,” says Sharma, adding that the cows also suffer as they are kept continuously ad constantly pregnant.
Most animals in dairies are not provided veterinary care other than in dire need. In cases of infections, wounds, and behavioural stress, the condition of the animal is ignored and they are continuously milked. Injuries ranging from small bruises to tumours and fractures were found in dairies. 64% dairies were observed to have animals with untreated bruises, tumors and fractures.
Most dairies had either brick or cement flooring. Hard floors cause injuries, lameness as well as joint problems to cattle — 79% dairies did not have access to soft ground. No arrangement for shelter was found in dairies. They had housing in the form of thatch roof sheds and roadsides. About 33% dairies did not have proper lighting during night- as a result of which most of the dairies conduct the evening milking in dark enclosures.
Since the quality and quantity of fodder depends on the economic status of the dairy owners, 58 % farms feed less than half of the desired minimum quantity (20ks) their cattle per day.
“All of these conditions need to be regulated,” says Sharma, adding that the report calls for urgent and strict implementation of the existing laws of animal welfare as well as urban governance. It also highlights the need for additional regulation in select areas where there are significant violations of acceptable conditions for dairy animals.