How many calves go into whey?

You could say I’m ve-curious.

Question: how many calves need to be born in order to produce 1kg of whey protein powder?

Answer: about 0.07! One pregnancy lasts for a year with the cow producing 8 gallons or 30L per day. That’s about 11KL per calf. Meanwhile, it takes 200L of milk to yield 1kg of whey protein, so each pregnancy yields about 15kg of whey protein (and about 25x as much casein).

Apparently dairy cows also only give birth three times generally before being slaughtered for beef.

This exercise is a little cold and morbid but I genuinely was curious what the environmental and (potential) moral cost of dairy/whey consumption was. In general it’s a lot lower than I expected, although I haven’t done THAT much work to double check the figures. It’s kind of insane that a dairy cow produces 11KL of milk over the course of a year during one pregnancy. That’s just an absurd quantity.

From a cow life experience point of view, probably not awesome being milked 24/7 for three years in a row and then slaughtered.


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