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​What happens to dairy cows when their milk production slows down?

Canadian dairy cows produce an average of 30 litres of milk per day. In order to produce milk, cows must give birth to a calf, and typically have their first calf around two years of age. The farmer will begin to rebreed cows two to four months after their last calf depending on the health of the cow.

Once a dairy cow’s milk production decreases to a level at which it is no longer profitable for the farmer to keep the cow, they will be sold at auction or sent for slaughter. On average, Canadian dairy cows leave the farm by five to six years of age, which is much younger than their natural lifespan.

On an SPCA Certified farm or smaller family farm cows are often kept much longer than when they are raised on large-scale farms. The average lifespan of a cow in the SPCA Certified program is 10-11 years of age.

Get the full story about how dairy cattle are raised and handled on Canadian farms.