We often ask people to estimate the age animals reach before they are slaughtered. The large majority estimate this age to be higher than is actually the case.
In the list showing the numbers of animals kept in factory farming per Province, we provide the average age, per animal, at which it is slaughtered.
A livestock farmer brings an animal to be slaughtered as soon as it no longer grows or produces, because keeping it longer in the stable costs fodder en lowers returns. In the case of cows, this is the point at which milk production is over its peak. This point occurs at an extremely young age: between four and five years.
Milking cows in organic livestock farming can easily be bred so that they reach their maximum production at a later age.
For this purpose, an “organic total breeding fitness level” is maintained, which encompasses 6 characteristics. These characteristics consist for 50% of production characteristics and for the other half of characteristics relating to the constitution (vitality) of the animal.
Late maturity of a cow is an important factor. A cow which needs to kept longer and slaughtered later, will need to develop over a prolonged period. The organic milk value consists of 3 lactation stages (respectively 20%, 30% and 50%) instead of just 1, as is normal in dairy factory farming.
The peak of lactation (milk yield) is only reached in the fifth or sixth year of the cow’s life. Furthermore, persistence is highly valued, because peak productions can lead to a too high yield of concentrates or to prolonged milk fever. A cow that yields 20-25 kg milk, 300 days long, will arrive at an annual yield of 6.500 to 7000 kg and that on less than 1000 kg of grain.
Cows are bred to an average milk speed of about 3 kg per minute. High milk speeds lead to udder infections and milk leakage in the cow.
This manner of breeding and working in organic dairy farming better guarantees the welfare of the animal and the health of the consumer of dairy products and meat.