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Organic husbandry of cattles

Happy cows on green fields?

Happy cows on green fiels correspond to the ideal of the consumer who cares for so called humane husbandry when buying meat and dairy. Only 5.1% (year 2009) of the cattles in Germany are "organic breed", organic milk-cows are only 2.9% of all German milk-cows – at least THEY are happy?

"Milk-cows" and "suckler cow husbandry"

The husbandry of cattles of the "meat breed" who are to be seen sporadically in "suckler cow husbandry" on a green field is of minor importance in Germany: the beef production is principally guaranteed by disused milk cows and their male babies. Those animals of the meat breed who are not abused as milk cows spend part of the year with their calves outside "on green fields". After summer they end up in the stables as well, their calves are slaughtered at the age of about 9 months.

One third of all organic milk cows in tie-stalls

Milk cows are not even allowed a short time with their babies – "green field" is an absolute exception. At the moment about one third of Germany's ecologically kept milk cows live in tie-stalls (source: BÖLW – Federation of ecological food industry). Restained at the neck those animals have no other possibility to move than to stand or lay down, always towards the same direction. Looking to Bavaria reveals that even organic cows in the beautiful green South of Germany have no "humane" life at all. In 900 Bavarian organic farms the milk cows live in tie-stalls – totally legal.

Permanent pregnancy and the separation of the calves

Like any other mammal the organic cow will only have milk after having born a baby. The handsome vision of the man only taking away the milk "that is there anyway and left over" is an illusion. Organic cows are inseminated each year for their milk production, and organic calves are taken away from their mother shortly after birth, while men drink the milk that was meant for the calf. For both mother and baby the separation causes heavy psychological stress. The female calves are kept to serve as new "milk producers", the male calves end up in the slaughterhouse after a short time of fattening.

Painful dehorning

The gap between ambition and reality also appears when it comes to "painful interventions": in almost half of all organic flocks the cows are dehorned (source: BÖLW). As there are nerval ends running in the horns, this means an extremely painful procedure for the animals. The reason for the dehorning: the narrowness in the stables increases the risk of injuries. The gregariousness is also difficult as they have not lived a natural breeding and couldn't learn social behavior.

Consumed after 5 years of "milk cow subsistence"

The life of an organic milk-cow doesn't last longer than that of a "conventional milk-cow" – after about 5 years they are exhausted as well and end up in the slaughterhouse. Even the organic milk-cow is bred for high-performance. The udders of such cows of maximal milk production are unnaturally big, so the actual "milk-cow" is the result of a painful breed that shouldn't exist according to the animal protection law. The oversized udders cause problems, are extremely sensitive against kicks and hitches. Invading germs because of the permanent milking are cause for painful infections of the udder that lead to premature death in many cases.


Organic cows in organic stable:

Biokuh im Biostall

Biokuh im Biostall

Anbindehaltung von Bio-Kälbern
Anbindehaltung von Bio-Kälbern
(verboten, aber oft praktiziert)

More information about health and ecological disadvantages from milk: www.ausgemolken.net

3 minutes every day life of an organic cow on video tape:


 The V-booklet