On November 26, India marks its National Milk Day, on the birthday of Verghese Kurien, the Father of White Revolution, and founder of one of India’s most loved brands — Amul.
Over the years India has emerged as one of the biggest milk producer and consumer in the world. Most of us start our day with a ‘healthy glass’ of milk, or that is what we have been told.
As the agrarian areas shrinking but the demand for milk and milk products is constantly increasing, the production these days happens on dairy farms. These small to large-scale farms produce a few hundred to millions of litres of milk every day that comes to us in pouches, at the end customer get to see is the milk or milk products, a little to no knowledge about the production process or how they are being operated.
According to estimate, there were 327,300,000 dairy animals in India in 2013, ranging from sizes in the volume produced and the number of cattle in these farms.
Now Animal equality, an animal rights advocacy group has conducted an extensive study on dairy farms across India, and it has shed new light on the enormity of torture and evil practices going on in the industry.
The study covered 107 dairy farms, 2 semen collection centres, 11 cattle markets, 8 slaughterhouses, 7 meat markets and 5 tanneries situated in North, South, East and West of India to study how buffaloes and cattle were treated.
Most of these dairy farms were found to be below par, when it came to hygiene of the shed where the cattle are kept. Undercover videos and photos shared by Animal Equality shows how poor their living conditions are. These farms are not cleaned regularly and are extremely dirty.
Often they end up living with the dead and rotting carcass of young newborn calves. This further increases the risks of the animals becoming infected, which in turn affects the quality of the milk produced.
Another notable miss in a lot of the farms are properly trained vets to take care of the cattle in case of injuries or illnesses, making the situation even worse.
Not just that, these animals are regularly mistreated often being beaten up and physically punished to keep them dominated.
“It may seem that cattle in India are protected but they are subjected to this torture every day. In the wild cattle may live up to 15-20 years but because of all these cruelties, their bodies become weak at the age of 4-5. These cruel practices are a blatant violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Transport Rules, 1978, the Slaughterhouse Rules 2001 and various orders from High Courts and Supreme Court of India,” Amruta Ubale, Executive Director of Animal Equality said.
The study also found the rampant use and misuse of antibiotics, often un-prescribed. bought illegally over the counters which they use to treat the animals. Oxytetracycline is from tetracycline group of antibiotics which was commonly found in the dairies. This antibiotic is used to treat infections like mastitis, infection in the udders. The traces of these antibiotics can be found in the milk of the animal who has been given these antibiotics.
The rampant use of hormones like oxytocin which helps in increasing the milk production was also traced. In order to increase the milk output, dairy farm owners give oxytocin hormone injections despite the ban on the use of it on dairy animals. Considering the cruelty and harmful effects of it on humans, the government banned oxytocin under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and it allows the sale of it to registered veterinary practitioners only.
Oxytocin is sold at Rs.55 in unlabeled plastic bottles and is easily available. The men milking the animals keep a syringe filled with oxytocin, if they feel an animal is unable to give milk, they shove the needle into the animal’s neck.
The use of oxytocin is known to disturb the reproductive cycle of female animals thereby reducing their life expectancy. And the consumption of oxytocin injected milk is known to cause severe hormonal imbalances among its consumers.
Animal Equality also pointed out that the cattle which can still be legally slaughtered are transported in congested trucks, kept and slaughtered in unhygienic conditions and leaves behind a trail of blood, flesh, skin, especially in water sources near the farms and slaughterhouses.
Animal Equality urged the government to form a committee to monitor welfare of dairy animals, training for dairy farmers on proper handling and good practices, sexed semen technology to avoid male calf slaughter, discontinue tethering of animals and leave them open in a designated area, effectively implement the oxytocin prohibition and increase the minimum penalty of Rs.50 to Rs. 20,000 in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
“India has more than 327 million cattle. Having rules in place which will alleviate the suffering of farmed animals is a basic requirement which every developed country has in place. India should not lag behind,” Ubale said.
Date : 04 December 2017