Many of us love milk for ice cream, milk shakes, yogurt, cereal or just a cold refreshing glass with our meal. We imagine the placid looking cows, grazing in a field of green pasture. Such a pleasant thought to imagine. But, lurking in the background is a factory dairy farm. This might be a shocking revelation for you.
Of course the dairy farm is a business with a goal of maximizing production and profit, like most any other commercial enterprise. Within a dairy farm, Issues to consider are to maximize milk output per cow, to use feed with the proper nutrition for maximum health and manage cattle feed growth for highest yield.
Many business improvements will generate both a gain and a loss, a pro and a con. The dairy business actions are no exception. A concentration of cattle in the minimum area will also concentrate the urine and manure waste problem. Where does it go? Probably the nearest stream, carrying with it a high content of chemicals that will create an imbalance in the water.
Cattle feed,such as alfalfa, is often sprayed with a pesticide to minimize loss of growth to bugs. Often, the chemical overspray results in negative effects for neighboring farms and communities. This is certainly not a welcome addition for their environments. The spray chemicals can have health impact for both people and other animals.
Chemical additives to cattle feed can have long term impact on both the cattle as well as the people who drink the milk. The consumers can be unaware of its effect in the long term. antibiotics and hormones can both have a lasting consequence, especially in children.
The below video explores the environment within a factory style dairy farm. The word “factory” is used to describe a milk production process that organizes and exploits each action required for the cows to give the most milk. High efficiency is the desired objective, getting the best ROI (return on investment).
11 Reasons Why Animal Factory Farms Have Environmental Impact
Collect animal wastewater from factory farm
Spraying collected waste water into the open air for disbursement.
An active group of youth that is concerned about the environment has created the DoSomething.org website.
This group is composed of 5.5 million young people making positive change, online and off.
They put together 11 facts about how animal factory farms impact the environment.
The 11 facts are listed below with source reference links at the bottom of the page.
About 10 billion land animals in the United States are raised for dairy, meat, and eggs each year.
Animal Factory farms accounts for 37% of methane (CH4) emissions, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2.
Manure can also contain traces of salt and heavy metals, which can end up in bodies of water and accumulate in the sediment, concentrating as they move up the food chain.
When manure is repeatedly overapplied to farm land it causes dangerous levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water supply. In such excessive amounts, nitrogen robs water of oxygen and destroys aquatic life.
Burning fossil fuels to produce fertilizers for animal feed crops may emit 41 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
Globally, deforestation for animal grazing and feed crops is estimated to emit 2.4 billion tons of CO2 every year.
Corn, wheat, and rice, the fast-growing crops on which humanity depends for survival, are among the most nitrogen hungry of all plants.
Large-scale animal factory farms often give animals antibiotics to promote growth, or to compensate for illness resulting from crowded conditions. These antibiotics enter the environment and the food chain.
Animal Factory farms contribute to air pollution by releasing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane.
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that confined farm animals generate more than 450 million tonnes of manure annually, 3 times more raw waste than generated by Americans.
The waste lagoons on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) not only pollute our groundwater, but deplete it as well. Many of the farms use the groundwater for cleaning, cooling, and drinking.