Goat’s milk is increasingly promoted as a healthier, more ethical option, but very few consumers are aware of what happens on goat farms.
Animal Justice Project investigated a major goat dairy brand over a two-month period to show that goat’s milk will never, in fact, be an ethical option.
Their specialities are milk, cheese, butter and yoghurts commonly seen in supermarket aisles such as Asda, Holland & Barrett, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Co-op and Tesco, and they export globally. One of their largest ‘show’ farms, Pastures House Farm in Skipton, North Yorkshire, holds over 2,000 goats and is owned by Phil Ormerod, the Director for the Milking Goat Association – a body representing UK commercial goat farmers.
Surrounded by luscious green fields, goats at this intensive farm never get to be outdoors. It is a zero-grazing farm and the animals will spend their entire short lives inside barren, filthy sheds. Being able to see the outdoors, whilst trapped inside, must cause psychological distress.
Naturally, goats are browsing animals, not grazers, and eat weeds and bushes. The feeding system, where goats have to graze from the ground, means they cannot display their natural feeding behaviour.
“It’s the welfare of the goats, not the convenience of the farmer that has made the decision to keep the goats’ housed.”
Goats can happily live outdoors from Spring to Autumn, given appropriate housing. Delamere’s goats were painfully lame, which is the very reason Delamere states that goats cannot be outdoors. Nanny goats with overgrown and sore hooves were often filmed walking on their knees in order to ease the discomfort.
Goats are viewed as milking machines for the sake of profits.
The bodies of dairy goats become exhausted due to intensive selective breeding which results in large and sore udders, goats producing extremely high milk yields and unnaturally large pregnancies. Pregnant goats become immobile as they struggle to carry their immense weight.
One goat was unable to stand up for over 28 hours, trapped by her own body weight.
"There is an excessive number of lame goats in these videos. The associated pain and discomfort are an obvious cause of concern for the welfare of the animals. The high levels of lameness could be due to poor environment, poor management and inappropriate veterinary interventions." – Molly Vasanthakumar, Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery MRCVS
The goats at Delamere’s farms pay the real price for the milk and cheese sold in supermarkets.
Giving birth to up to four babies, and often having stillborns, nanny goats at Pastures House Farm had their babies torn from their sides within just 24 hours. Mothers fought to get back to their kids, searching for them. Their heartache was clear as both mothers and babies were crying out hours later.
“Female kids are not killed and are kept as replacements for their mothers” and “The majority of billy goats born on Delamere Dairy farms are now reared and sold for meat.”
Both male and female kids were killed on farm during secret filming at Pasture House Farm.
Kid goats on dairies receive so little respect that the farmers who kill them don’t even need to count the bodies. Neither the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) hold official statistics on the numbers either, but the Goat Veterinary Society (GVS) estimates that 25-50% will be killed soon after birth. This is around 3,000 babies every year.
Sadly, it is also a time of death. Helpless nanny goats appeared traumatised as day-old babies were killed in front of them.
Kids were stunned using a captive bolt gun, causing immense trauma to the skull, making the baby unconscious. A metal rod was then inserted into the brain to cause fatal damage; a heartless process known as ‘pithing’ by the industry. None of the kids who were killed had their vital signs checked afterwards (breaching guidelines) and were distressingly filmed writhing and kicking on the ground for some time after.
Their bodies were left bleeding on the ground and later dumped onto the dead piles strewn across the farm. One of which was left for two weeks, decomposing. Both nannies and kids were found dead and decomposing on these piles. One of which was on a public footpath, out in the open air and exposed to birds and other scavengers. A serious breach of body disposal guidelines.
They screamed out in pain as workers punctured holes into their delicate ears for tags and later were subjected to ‘disbudding’, another painful mutilation involving the removal of their horn buds, usually with a hot cauterising iron. All for the convenience of the farmer.
Goat dairy will never be an ‘ethical’ option.
As long as shoppers demand dairy products, goats will be commodified for milk and their families will be torn apart. By choosing plant-based, we can end the cold-blooded exploitation of goats and the Spring massacre of kids.
Oat milk has one of the lowest environmental impacts of any milk, especially when compared to cow or goat dairy. In comparison to the milk of a cow (as very little is known about the environmental impact of goat milk production, compared to cow dairy, though it is thought to be of a similar magnitude), oat milk produces 80% less greenhouse gases, uses 60% less energy, ten times less water and ten times less land.
Oats can be grown in many places throughout the UK, keeping emissions low, quality high and it could increase our food security in the future.
The oat industry is producing more oats than it has done in recent decades and the value of the industry has increased by 28% from 2019 to 2020 alone, with a value of £150 million.
Oat milk production allows for a kinder future for both cows and goats, helping to create a sustainable and just plant-based food system.
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