India has the most cattle in the world. They are not worshiped in temples, nor do they amble through the countryside eating as they go.
In India, there are no happy cows or buffaloes. Since 2014, when the BJP administration took office with a pledge to ban meat exports, India has become the world’s largest exporter of cow flesh (“beef”), even exceeding Brazil. We currently account for over 40% of the world’s cow meat production. And we are the world’s largest milk producer, surpassing the European Union, the United States, and China.
Most cows and buffaloes no longer reproduce naturally. As someone who recruits hundreds of veterinarians, I know that while they may know nothing about diagnostics or treatment, they are invariably familiar with artificial insemination. This is the main focus of all veterinary schools.
To keep the milk and meat going India has a large national breeding program. Semen is extracted from bulls and sent across the country to be used by practically all those in the business of milk, to begin with, and meat later. 80% of all dairy cows are impregnated artificially. In natural breeding, one ejaculation produces one or two calves at most.
A study was done on the industry of sperm farming and frozen semen technology between 2014 and 2016 (Journal of Human-Animal Studies, Yamini Narayanan, 2018). Apart from studying the documentation and doing hundreds of interviews with people involved in semen production, industry policy, and animal protection the authors also studied the government-owned semen stations in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra seeing firsthand the process of semen extraction, quality assessment, storage, and transportation to dairies. There, the semen would be used to artificially inseminate cows.
Because it is separated into amounts just adequate to guarantee conception, a single semen extraction can yield hundreds of calves. As a result of their outrage about the mistreatment of dairy cows and male calves, many Indians have quit consuming milk. However, most people are ignorant of the terrible cruelty involved with sperm extraction. The study discovered that bulls are kidnapped at 18 months and chained by their noses in small groups in cramped barns or kept separately in small stalls for years.
They get angry and agitated, and the ropes in their noses are used to control them, resulting in sores and, in some cases, maggot infestations. Each bull visits the sperm extraction facility twice a day, four days a week. A dummy cow is propped up, and the bull is required to mount her and ejaculate into a temperature-controlled vagina. Bulls that refuse or are unable to perform are subjected to the unpleasant procedure of electro-ejaculation.
This procedure uses a 12-24-volt jolt of electricity applied through a probe in the rectum. It is called “human-assisted extraction of semen” and was started in the late 1960s. (Imagine a man being made to ejaculate by having an electric rod shoved into his anus- twice a day for years). A single ejaculation provides 500 to 600 sperm ‘doses,’ each containing 20 million sperm.”
This happens to each bull for 5- 10 years ( depending on his semen output and quality)and then he is sent to slaughter. The semen is deep-frozen in liquid nitrogen and then sent around India. This ghastly invasive reproductive technology was the reason for the “success” of the White Revolution or Operation Flood in the 1970s, making India a leading milk producer – but exchanging quality for quantity. Milk has never been of that same purity and quality ever again.
Indian animal husbandry departments have more than 60 frozen-semen farms and about 77,000 artificial insemination centers. There are no rules and no animal welfare protection for these bulls. The psychological and physical traumas of bulls are treated as irrelevant to semen extraction.
What is the effect of electroejaculation on the bull’s body?
The rod or probe in the rectum has ring electrodes, that is, electrodes that surround the barrel of the probe. These electrodes stimulated nerves other than those required for electroejaculation. In particular, the nerves of the muscles in the hind limb are affected resulting in strong contractions of the muscles of the legs, thighs, and back. These contractions are severe enough with some types of probes to cause hemorrhage and bruising of affected muscles and stiffness for a few days.
In studies done on physiological distress changes in the plasma cortisol level of animals were checked as an indicator of the degree of distress being experienced by animals. Plasma cortisol levels rose sharply in bulls 15 minutes after electroejaculation and remained elevated for 2-4 hours showing extreme distress(Source: Electroejaculation: a welfare issue? Surveillance vol.22.). The Netherlands and Denmark have banned this practice due to its cruelty.
None of these farms, like the majority of the animal husbandry industry, function correctly. Bulls should be inspected to ensure their physical health. To achieve optimal sperm quality, they should be adequately fed, exercised, and kept happy. This does not occur in a single facility. The majority of the bulls are unwell, underfed, never exercised, and are only infrequently inspected for disease.
So what has happened? India has a much lower rate of success than other countries using artificial insemination despite having the world’s largest artificial bovine reproductive breeding centers. The bulls are kept badly and the semen being sent around is often diseased causing abortions in the cows. This has a direct bearing on human health and the spread of tuberculosis has been directly linked to the brucellosis in milk cattle which comes through the semen.
There are many more diseases that come from this extracted semen. Put yourself in the place of the bull. As long as you drink milk, this is what will happen to this young virile animal. Do you want to be responsible for this terrible cruelty?
Maneka is an Indian Politician and a member of the Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Indian parliament, and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. She is Sultanpur MP and former Women and Child Development Minister and is an animal rights activist.