Ethical Milk: Is it possible and what would it cost?



hey guys so I've talked about the distinction between use and abuse before saying and promoting uses abuse means that usually you're going to be right but usually does not mean always there are instances in which animals can be used without exploitation I think a really good example would be again a backyard hen you know having a hen who produces unfertilized eggs and then consuming those eggs assuming the hen is well cared for and loved and all of that kind of stuff what would be the harm I don't even think you could argue that well they're being stolen from the chicken because they're essentially a waste product consuming or using you know maybe you're just taking the eggs and throwing them at a wall I don't know product that is not being used by the animal has not involved any exploitation of any kind why would we be against someone doing that and in fact it could again have some good attached to it actually helping people who need the food or helping the chicken of course now the chicken if it's a rescued chicken has a good life with someone who loves her that seems like a win-win to me and while I don't believe that killing an animal for taste or convenience is ever justified outside of dire need like survival something I talked about recently in this video there could be some argument to be made for vegetarianism like unfertilized eggs from a rescued backyard hen but what about dairy like eggs it doesn't inherently require killing but what would it take to do it humanely and how much would it cost to be clear I'm talking about economic practices here I'm not talking about common practices like tail docking which according to the American Veterinary Medical Association actually serves no purpose and is only harmful to the cow farmers keep doing it just because of anecdotes what I am talking about our practices like killing cows once production stops this isn't done because farmers just get off on killing cows it's done because it would be far more expensive to keep them alive how much more expensive I'll get to that but first number one no more veal industry obviously male cows don't produce milk so they are typically taken from their mothers quickly and sent into the veal industry obviously this is in no way humane luckily there is one pretty easy fix sexed semen and as beef magazine reports the cost is pretty trivial compared to using conventional semen McGrath says using sexed semen makes economic sense for beef and dairy producers when the gender value difference is at least $150 with sexing semen the industry standard is 90% female but the purity can reach 95% this means that keeping one non-productive bull for every 19 cows alive and basically in retirement would only increase the price of dairy by 119th or 5.2 6% that plus 150 dollars for all the dairy the cow produces out of one impregnation which adds up to pennies a gallon at most how many people complain about artificial insemination being unethical from my perspective it seems less cruel than unleashing a horny bowl upon gals advantages of artificial insemination include its low cost and ease compared to maintaining a bull ability to select from a large number of bulls elimination of diseases in the dairy industry improved genetics and improved animal welfare rather than a large bull jumping on a smaller heifer or weaker cow AI allows the farmer to complete the breeding procedure within five minutes with minimum stress placed on the individual female's body better genetic selection can also mean lower risk of disease and injuries to the cows through inbreeding if it's done right semen can easily be shipped around the world for genetic diversity and of course for cow welfare which is what we're talking about here this would also mean breeding for health and well-being rather than milk production which brings me to my second point number 2 high production is stressful Cal has been bred for absurdly high milk output this drastically increases the risk for mastitis along with other problems due to the selective breeding clinical mastitis is the most commonly reported health problem in the u.s. dairy industry responsible for sixteen point five percent of recorded deaths the trauma caused by milking machines to keep tissues and genetic selection for extremely high milk yields have been identified as predisposing factors for this painful swelling of the cow's mammary glands and we can see the increase in milk production over time in charts like these from around 4,000 to 16,000 pounds per cow per year at about two pounds a liter that's from about 2000 liters to buy now over 8,000 liters top breeds are reported to produce about 10,000 liters per cow per year which seems to be a commonly reported number today the Holstein Friesian is the main breed of dairy cow in Australia and said to have the world's highest productivity at 10,000 litres of milk per year the average for a single dairy cow in the u.s. in 2007 was nine thousand one hundred and sixty four point four kilograms or twenty thousand two hundred four pounds per year to be fair there's no reason we should need to go back to pre 1950s levels of production some of that increase is due to improvements in milking and even improved health and nutrition looking at the graph we can see two rapid increases with a bit of a plateau between them in the 70s where it reaches around 10,000 pounds this seems to be around the time intensive breeding efforts got underway to maximize milk output for industrial production there was apparently a pretty dramatic shift in cow breeding being generous to the dairy industry we can estimate that the most harmful increase was the doubling of milk production during that second spike the FAO backs us up milk yield per cow has more than doubled in the previous 40 years and many cows now produce more than 20,000 kilograms of milk per lactation the increase in production should be viewed with concern because one the increase in milk yield has been accompanied by declining fertility increasing leg and metabolic problems and declining longevity – there are unfavorable genetic correlations between milk yield and fertility mastitis and other production diseases indicating that deterioration in fertility and health is largely a consequence of selection for increased milk yield and 3hi disease incidents reduced fertility decreased longevity and modification of normal behavior are indicative of substantial decline in Cal welfare a multi trait selection program in which improving health fertility and other welfare traits are included in the breeding objective and appropriately weighted relative to affection traits should be adopted by all breeding organizations motivated in their goal of improving welfare so returning to earlier breeds of cows and breeding for welfare would likely see milk production cut in half to about five thousand liters per cow per year this alone would pretty much double the price of milk number three let the calf drink while female calves are given some milk their consumption is typically restricted this has serious ethical ramifications for both mother and child since in order to restrict feeding they are separated as expected appropriate access to milk for the calf significantly reduces the amount available for humans out of ten thousand litres a year average it's a small chunk and even smaller due to the restricted access of only being allowed 1,000 liters but out of the more humane five thousand litres a year average and allowing the calves to feed freely until weaning this means that they can take about half of the milk produced up to around 12 litres a day research shows that calves I get free access to milk through buckets or large bottles fitted with nipples drink about 8 to 10 liters per day calves that are allowed to suckle drink as much as 12 litres of milk per day at an age of two weeks that's potentially the difference between 2500 litres and 9,000 litres to reach market so the reduction in milk adds up to 3.6 times the price rather than 2 times the price to be fair there could be some benefits to milk production as well several studies have shown that calves that drink as much as they wish our healthier require fewer visits from vets produce 10% more milk as adults and show more rapid growth than calves forced to follow the recommended feeding regimen so we could add 10 percent on to that but number four single lactation cycle once we are using sexed sperm using healthy and likely older genetically diverse breeds and treating the cows with adequate care rather than calling them as soon as they pose an inconvenience or expense it won't be possible to keep getting them pregnant to maximize milk production as is now done only one in 20 cows will need to give birth a second time to maintain the herd size and anything else would result in an unsustainable exponential growth of the population there are a number of costs to that mature cows produce about 25% more milk than two-year-old heifers increased body weight accounts for about one-fifth of this increase the remaining four-fifths results from increased utter development during recurring pregnancies the dairy farmers lose that 20% gain from the second or third cycle with an average of three cycles per cow we'd be looking at about eighty eight percent of average production due to fewer cycles let's say ninety percent to overestimate the contribution of that one extra pregnancy in twenty so an additional ten percent loss would give us two thousand versus nine thousand four four point five times the cost but if the benefits to milk production of increasing the calf's milk access are true then these may ultimately almost cancel out and it is possible that an increase of milk for that reason is due to overall size and health so it may not come with the same risks associated with increased production from selective breeding number five not killing the cow when production drops dairy cows are typically considered spent and sent to slaughter at around five years of age after around three cycles of calving and milk production yet cows can live fifteen to twenty years and the oldest cow on record lived to forty eight if those years are unproductive that's three times longer life span at face value and assuming we see the same loss of production in older cows who aren't right out each year and only had one calf this would triple the price of milk but we're also only dealing with one production cycle if standard practices were used because milk production drops off after a few months one cycle of calving would need substantially less milk at the extreme end if we assume the industry standard of drying a cow after three hundred and five days to stop milk production we'd be looking at two thousand five hundred liters instead of twenty seven thousand liters or even twenty-eight thousand five hundred liters since male calves aren't fed any milk that would multiply the price of dairy by an additional factor of thirteen point five over those five years for a total increase in price of forty point five times higher for only making the cow have one calf and letting her live out her life luckily for any potentially more ethical dairy industry it's a myth that cows has to be kept pregnant to produce milk but it's not a myth that they have to be pregnant to produce an egg nominal amount production drops massively giving poor return on feed so much so that I couldn't actually find an example of this being done in the dairy industry it seems to be unheard of and only the case when somebody is like keeping a family cow for personal use based on a crude extrapolation from the production curves available and other scant information like this international collaboration where it was reported that dairy farmers in India get one to two gallons daily which is improved by a third for better feed and care it looks like production from cows who are milked longer is about twenty to thirty percent being generous let's say 30 percent that's an increase in cost by a factor of 3 point 33 for the years after calving I couldn't find any evidence that cow stopped producing milk at a particular age the record holder for longevity at 48 years old had 39 calves so what's the damage the first two years are growth and that's the same for any cow once they calves they're producing about 5000 liters for the first ten months half of which is consumed by the calf given unrestricted access leaving 2500 litres 10 months is typically when calves weaned on their own after that we get 30 percent of 5000 litres or 1500 every ten months three hundred to finish off the first year then 1,800 a year potentially over the next 12 years in optimal conditions that is a lifetime production of 24,000 400 liters per cow for these more humanely treated cows over 15 years compared to 28,000 500 liters per cow over five years that's eighty five point six percent of the milk with triple the cost for feed and care or about 3.5 times the price per gallon it would probably be higher since calves receive significantly less input and older cows are going to need more care but again I'm being generous none of this takes into account the treatment of the cows aside from not having their babies taken away having lower milk production to reduce some of the more severe health risks and not being killed for low production if we multiplied it by $2 gallon milk roughly the price of milk now then we're talking about 15 years of cow living in factory farmed conditions instead of five year in factory farm conditions with the calf joining the mother in the cage is that really an improvement there are farms that have otherwise more decent welfare standards like allowing cows to roam freely the milk from these farms tends to be closer to six dollars a gallon so 3.5 times 6 dollars a gallon would give us 21 dollars per gallon over 10 times the current price of most milk he's the dairy a no-kill dairy sells milk at $10 a gallon so this is probably getting closer to what we would expect but it's unclear what corners they are cutting to get the cost even that low they are probably still using cows with very high double healthy levels of production which would explain why is half the price and basically turning out the males and older cows with very little care when they don't produce or are too old to work and to be clear they do work the bowls they say they provide hospice but it's not clear what that means it looks like they're relying on donations to fund cow retirement and so this isn't really part of their business plan so probably not sustainable and we haven't even talked about climate change the environmental consequences of this kind of milk production are even worse than factory farming 3.5 times the number of cows for the same amount of milk production that's a lot of enteric fermentation so what would the carbon offset for something like that look like well I've been careful to use largely industry and NGO sources for all of this instead of Pro vegan sources and I won't use the vegan source here either I'll take it straight from an industry propaganda site with folks being more mindful about what they eat and how that impacts the environment we know some may wonder what is the carbon footprint of milk we are happy we can help a gallon of milk produced in the US has a carbon footprint of seventeen point six pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent according to research conducted by the University of Arkansas so seventeen point six pounds times 3.5 equals sixty one point six pounds or point zero two seven nine tons at 120 dollars per ton a commonly cited speculative price for many technologies that adds another three dollars and thirty five cents to the total bringing the grand total for what we can calculate to a little over twenty four dollars per gallon can buy a half gallon of silk soy milk for 3.29 cents or $6 58 cents a gallon at just a regular grocery store just sayin and then there are the costs that are less easy to account for like antibiotic-resistant superbugs and the human lives those cost I talked about this a lot in this video I guess you'll just have to decide what that's worth to you since it's really stretching the limits of how much research I can do in one video it's fair to say that antibiotic use would be less with healthier cows but it could still be an issue so all that said it seems like more ethical dairy could be possible it really depends on how much you're willing to pay to reduce and offset most of the harms inherent in the industry but if you see a price tag under $24 per gallon be skeptical be very skeptical thank you so much for watching everybody I hope you enjoyed it a lot of you have asked for this topic since I mentioned it I don't remember when I mentioned it but quite a few of you commented that you wanted to see it so I hope you enjoy it took a whole lot of work so I better get a lot of use is what I'm saying yeah so thank you so much you want to subscribe of course subscribe and thank you so much to the lovely people supporting the channel over at patreon.com slash unnatural vegan you can do so too if you want and super super special thanks to these patrons Alec Larson Ally perception trainers HS Ross ysidro James Baker and Jody Lucas thank you so much everybody and I'll have a video so fully soon I didn't realize how many times I said semen in this video till I recorded it I mean it's only like three four times but I feel like even once it's too many times to say semen in a video but what are you going to do I mean one day its semen the next it's flatulence it's that's my channel apparently

36 thoughts on “Ethical Milk: Is it possible and what would it cost?

  1. 11:47 It should say "only 30% of the normal level of production for cows who are milked longer"

    15:32 Plus another $1.28 for bull care? It's not clear how much bulls really cost since their retirement would probably be lower maintenance than active milking.

  2. I worked for a goat dairy here in the Sonoran. We were you know sort of… Black market, I guess. But they functioned similarly to how you describe. We charged 10 dollars a gallon, and operated entirely by word of mouth with customers who came directly to us for product, and returned the glass containers every time without us even having a deposit program for it. It was a great operation, a real blessing to be a part of. I was shocked when I heard how unheard of it is to keep the kids with their moms. I was like "where else would we keep them?" So naive.
    Factory farming is the problem. It's horrific. I'm glad to see vegans who understand this. We can be allies.

  3. Don't forget to feed some of the chickens eggs back to them so they can regain lost nutrients from laying many more eggs than is natural for them to lay because we bred them like that, which is a danger to their health, there's a high risk of becoming egg bound etc

  4. I agree that it is ethical to be a vegetarian if you do not kill, steal from animal's kids (rations are allowed so long as their kid gets as much as it wants), allow the animal to have an ethical living situation (safe, without torture, healthy, and appropriate space and shelter), and treat animals with the same respect that you would treat yourself because they are consciously living, have the same emotional abilities as humans. From what I've found, animals have better emotions than most humans because they are more at peace with life due to better social relations and less stress/fear, and animals have acceptable group behavior because they can rely on their group so long as their group has harmony (i.e. suitable food, water, and living conditions that service peace and happiness for everyone).

  5. IT WAS NOT MEANT FOR US!! Why keep on making this complicated? Are you really freaking vegan? I used to like many of your videos and I love how you do your research, but your philosophy doesn't seem to go against speciesism, it promotes it.

  6. I know this is quite late but one comment I have that could offset these prices is the fact that we currently produce more milk than we can use. This is why cheese is so popular in the United States – why it is on everything rather than just a food in and of itself. We simply do not need this much milk and the only reason so much is produced is specific government subsidies for large farms (which smaller farms with well loved cows typically benefit less from. Thinking of a good friend of mine who was raised on a dairy farm and cared for and loved the cows deeply.) Government money could be redistributed to smaller farms who care for cows better and produce less milk thus offsetting their costs for caring for the cows and increasing their own standards of living. They could actually produce profit on cheaper milk with these subsidies. Bigger farms could downsize if they see that smaller farms are incentivized more by the government. We would have a correct amount of milk to reach demand, lower food waste from overproduction, and transform cheese from a condiment to a significant portion of a meal the way it was traditionally used. Redistribution of wealth from the rich and powerful who exploit for profit to the poor persons with less power who just work small farms out of survival and love for the animals is the hidden key to ethical dairy – or, indeed, all ethical business.

  7. It’s terrible that you dismiss them working off of donations as not sustainable without knowing for sure.

  8. By the way if they sold the milk at that price at the store right now I will go by it 100% and it’s not because I am rich because I’m not by what it’s worth to humans in the biggest picture of all is beyond priceless.

  9. Krishna Cow Sanctuary in Hawaii, Check them out please, and if you do it will be great if you did an update to this topic after. Thank you great work.

  10. You do realize that eggs don't really go to waste with chickens do you? I mean you realize that they will eat the unfertilized eggs to replenish their own sources of calcium and stuff, right? Chickens naturally do that.

  11. government subsidies are needed to keep even the large factory farm cow abusing industries going….stop the waste of taxpayers money is needed…just posted a comment on his page…"stop spending tax payers money on non essential industries ! if people are not buying milk stop subsidising it ! it is animal abuse and causing health cancers in humans additionally. hitler had a "family" the use of that argument to support farmers who should be producing HEALTHY foods people WANT to buy instead of subsiding animal abuse is ridiculous of you as a politician Mr Sanders. Wasting money wasting lives harming health. https://youtu.be/BLn-fupTwRk farmers are making a product the public do not want to buy ! and YOU suggest subsidising it ! " https://www.facebook.com/senatorsanders/ not finished with this…unliked him…and off to find the group that i belong to that supports him…

  12. A far more practical solution would be to genetically engineer bacteria to produce milk from grass and plants – similar to the way we are not able to produce insulin without using or harming pigs.

  13. I know for a fact that there is an ethical way to raise chickens for their eggs. I know this because I live a farming community and buy eggs from some of the local farmers. I see the chickens running around and they look happy and healthy

  14. My uncle keeps his cows for as long as possible. He just keeps them giving birth idk how he just does.

  15. What about angora or cashmere goats? Sheep? You can use their wool forever and their milk when you can.

  16. male bulls can be used for oxen. Yes they should be castrated unless you are a fucking 250 pound ninja man who knows how to defend themselves. I'd also argue forcing a cow to be constantly horny isn't more of a good idea than just castrating them UNDER LOCAL ANESTESIA FOR AT LEAST A DAY!

  17. I definitely agree on this one. I want to have animals for their fibers. I'm super interested in musk-ox. Their fibers are worth a ton and they produce pretty heavily and are pure pasture animals.

  18. that part about a cows lifetime may be true, but its kind of a waste, my grandfather has a dairy farm, and the cows are usually kept for 10-15 years

  19. I promise im Not trying to be annoying here. But you state in the video that "unleashing" a male cow is less humane than artificial insemination. Cows are meant to reproduce like everyother animal so obviously mating and sex for them is normal, just as sex is normal for other animals and isn't harming them in anyway. The cow is meant to have sex in order to produce offspring… so I'm just confused. Are you saying that animal reproduction is inhumane even though it happens and does happen in nature?

  20. I wouldn't call it ethical to inseminate the cows but as for the rest of this video, your're pretty spot on. Indeed dairy can be humane.

  21. My issue with this is even if we go to these ridiculous measures to get milk and eggs it can still gives people the perception that these animals are commodities. I don't think everyone who has backyard hens have them for the right reasons. They don't necessarily want them as pets like we have dogs or cats. They keep and care for them for what they produce. Same goes for cows. Even if there's no kill and no exploitation, it still leaves the action on shaky grounds. When you commoditize animals, it can lead our view of them away from a compassionate one. It's important to shift the way we see them before way we treat them.

  22. I feel like it needs to be addressed how Swayze waves away artificial insemination as better than setting a horny bull on them when there's still the option of not drinking the milk. I personally don't think ethical dairy is even theoretically possible, mainly because you're not going to get around the problems with insemination. Ethical eggs possibly, but I would ask how the hens are being acquired. In general I have ethical issues with the concept of breeding itself. Regardless of how nicely you do it it's still a violation.

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