Dairy and veal farming usually exist side-by-side; some babies, often the males, are given a short life in confinement before being killed for veal. While they are alive, they will be crated, unable to run or to play. Many of the females, on the other hand, will grow up and will be used to produce milk for human consumption, like their mothers were.
Those who become dairy cows will have a longer life, but for McArthur, that’s often the worst destiny of all. A dairy cow will be inseminated about three to five times in her first three to six years of life. She will pay a large physical toll.
The emotional toll is harder to quantify. When a calf is born, the mother cow licks her off and nuzzles her body for a brief period of time, generally a few minutes or hours. After this, the mother and baby are separated. Evidence suggests that mother cows, like humans, bond to their young. Female cows sometimes follow their calves as they are taken. McArthur has seen it herself.
In some cases, cows have been reported to moo and call after their children. There are also incidents of mother cows, on their second, third, fourth, or fifth baby, attempting to hide their young from humans for fear of losing them.
Sadly, one calf died when McArthur was at the farm near Madrid. She doesn’t know exactly what happened, but the baby was too sick and weak to shake off the flies that landed on her body. By the time she succumbed to illness later that day, she was covered.