In the old days I would have had a proper name like Matilda, or Gertrude, or Emily, but today I am known only by a number. When I say I'm known by a number, well that's not strictly true. No one actually knows me personally. The only reason anyone even knows I exist is because I have a tag, a bright yellow tag with numbers printed on it, stapled to my left ear.
You can call me a cow if you like, because that is what I am. I am the farm animal who supplies you with your daily milk. The milk that makes your butter. The milk that makes your cheese. The milk that nourishes your children and you.
Look up the word cow in the dictionary and you will see me described thus: A mature female animal of a domesticated breed of ox. That's all it says. Actually though, people who don't know any better, describe even the male of my species as cows. It's because they don't look. But the male is known as a bull. At least those who are allowed to live are, but even then they are not bulls for very long, because as soon as the young bulls testicles drop, they are, in most cases chopped off. The young bull then is known as a bullock.
Too many bulls are born. So what happens is that they are slaughtered soon after birth. Their only reason for being born in the first place is because, the young cow then becomes a milk producer, and can begin to earn her keep. She is the lucky one, if it can be described as luck, because she will live on until she gets too old to give milk. Those females not chosen to give milk are known as heifers. They must be slaughtered before they reach two years old. The same thing happens to the bullocks. This is where your meat known as beef comes from.
Why am I telling you this? Well I shall tell you. I am telling you this because I want you to know that we cows are just as important in the scheme of things, as horses are. Indeed probably more so. We give you milk and butter and cheese and yoghourt and cream and meat, and suet and leather.
I suppose what I'm saying is this: If you went into a shop and bought a horsemeat pie, only to discover later that it actually contained beef, I bet you wouldn't be concerned in the slightest. I suppose what I'm further saying is: Why is it all right to slaughter my kind in their millions, yet to slaughter a horse is so frowned upon? Is it to do with nobility? Is it to do with the magnificent role the horse has played in life?
If that is the case, then think how well mankind has done due to the sacrifices made by me and my kind, the humble cow.
Yes I do realise I haven't touched on the ethics of selling one thing and describing it as another. That is not my problem. After all I am only a cow. You can call me Matilda. I would like that.
Thank you John for giving me a voice. I could have said much more, but eloquence is a human thing I do not possess. All I know is this, horses or cows we are all worthy.