The RSPCA has attacked the British dairy industry claiming that some Holstein cows are “possibly more inbred than many of the pedigree dog breeds.”
The society says it wants retailers, farmers and consumers to all take responsibility for the serious welfare concerns facing the dairy cow.
“Of the two million dairy cows in the UK, the vast majority are of the Holstein breed, many of whom live with a number of serious health problems.
“Similarly, these cattle are possibly more inbred than many of the pedigree dog breeds.”
The RSPCA said two indicators of the increasing levels of inbreeding within the national herd are the inability to reproduce and an increasing susceptibility to disease.
It claims they are dogged with problems such as lameness, mastitis, leptospirosis and bovine viral diarrhoea.
John Avizienius, deputy head of farm animal science at the RSPCA and a former herdsman, said: “This is a very real problem and one that must be tackled by everyone, from farmers and retailers to us the consumer.
“If we don’t take action now we could end up milking the dairy cow to death.”
The RSPCA says although some farmers have very good levels of welfare their milk is sold for the same price as other people’s milk.
It says if consumer awareness of the issue is raised then they will demand better welfare for dairy cows and farmers who invest in better standards can be rewarded with higher prices.
Reaction from the industry to follow later…