Retiring Cows: What If This Happened Gradually?

Whoa, whoa, whoa! You’re being dramatic! The end of working cows would be gradual, not an overnight event! 

This series has sought to offer insight into what would happen if all cows, primarily dairy cows in the US, stopped working tomorrow. 

Of course the removal of working cows would occur over a span of years, not hours, but the problems listed in this series would still exist on some scale if the hypothetical question were to become real. 

Looking at what would happen to cows, breeding would slow or halt, with many cows being sold or culled (or both)—if the farm can transition. Dairy farms could go under, with a family business and generations of traditions lost. The cows themselves would suddenly be in search of a home with no one able to care for all of them. 

As for the world, it would adjust to eating the resources it has without cows, though with more struggling to find alternative sources of many recommended nutrients found in dairy products. The world’s land would change, as would methane emissions, though not in the way many suggest. A gradual change would still bring the results covered in this series. 

The strides in sustainable research and practice would be for nothing. New problems would arise: byproducts industries send to farms would now become food waste, some communities would lose one of their sources of energy, and many consumers would struggle to meet daily nutritional needs. 

And so we end this series saying, of course cows will be working tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. They are more important to sustainable eating than many think, so keep the end of cows hypothetical. They are the world’s sustainable food source, and they’re getting better at it every day. 

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