Ethical dairy brand Kalverliefde sells milk from farms that keep calves with cows

An uncomfortable truth about dairy is that calves are taken from their mothers minutes or hours after birth. Conventional thinking is that speedy separation is better for both cows and calves. It also results in higher milk yields for farmers. 

In the Netherlands, a new milk brand is being launched to ensure calves can stay with their moms for months instead of hours. Kalverliefde — literally 'calf love' and figuratively 'puppy love' — works with farmers who let cows and their offspring stay together, allowing the calves to suckle from their mother instead of from artificial udders. Out of over 15,000 dairy farmers in the Netherlands, an estimated 45 currently keep calves with cows.

Kalverliefde, which is organic as well as ethical, will be available next week at selected Albert Heijn stores (the Netherlands's largest supermarket chain), just in time for World Animal Day on October 4th. Retail price is expected to be around EUR 2 per liter, compared to EUR 1.45 for store-brand organic cow's milk or EUR 2.09 for a carton of non-organic Oatly.

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Plant-based milk is the largest category in vegan foods. Sales have soared over the past years, prompted by consumers seeking health benefits or acting from environmental or animal welfare concerns. But the overwhelming majority of milk still comes from cows. 

While hidden cameras have given people unsettling insights into industrial farming, the practice of removing calves from cows hasn't faced widespread public scrutiny. Demonstrating a different mode of caring for animals presents opportunities for ethical milk brands, cheesemakers and other dairy brands — backed up by a story of motherly love that more or less tells (and sells) itself.

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