Working inside Martin Farms, a Pennsylvania dairy factory farm, Animal Outlook’s investigator documented senseless and violent abuse of mother cows and their defenseless calves. This is some of the worst abuse we’ve ever documented, yet it shows practices representative of life for animals on a typical dairy farm.
In this case, our investigator followed a truck from this factory farm to an ice cream facility, owned by the world’s largest dairy company: Nestlé, the maker of ice cream brands including Dreyer’s, Edy’s and Häagen-Dazs.
Nestlé’s motto is “Good food, good life,” but our video shows life is anything but good for the innocent cows and calves suffering to provide the milk used in the company’s ice creams. What many see as a sweet treat is, in reality, a product of exploitation in the cold, cruel dairy industry.
Nestlé Responds: When alerted to our video, Nestlé responded that it immediately severed ties with Martin Farms. This small step, however, fails to address the systemic nature of the issues our investigation exposed. As a leader in the food industry, Nestlé can — and should — take proactive steps that include eliminating some of the most egregious abuses within its supply chain, including the cruel removal of calves’ horns and tissue, and going even further to offer plant-based options to meet the growing consumer demand.
Martin Farms Responds: In the wake of our investigation, Martin Farms issued a statement on April 3 claiming “We do not tolerate any animal mistreatment” and “we are shocked that these incidents took place on our farm.” The company states that “all employees shown in the video mishandling animals…have been terminated.” However, like’s Nestlé’s response, this too fails to address the toxic culture of abuse that stems from poor management and leadership. Our video captures the systemic nature of abuse that happens when the farm thought no one was watching, including a supervisor who was alerted to the abuse by our investigator but was actually a primary perpetrator, setting an accepted tone of violence at the farm.
"As a mother, I often think about this violence and the shattering of the mother-infant bond the dairy industry relies upon to exist."
Martin Farms Dairy Investigation Photos
Our shocking video reveals:
• “Downed” cows, unable to walk or stand, hoisted by their hips with metal clamps, to be moved or chained and dragged by tractor
• A manager shooting a “downed” cow in the head, who remains conscious for almost a minute before she was finally shot for the last time
• A manager sadistically stabbing a cow with a sharp instrument in a botched attempt to supposedly treat a stomach ailment. The cow bleeds heavily and receives no pain relief or veterinary care.
• ”Downed” cows abused, killed and butchered on site, the meat distributed to workers in garbage bags
• Workers spraying cows in the face with scalding hot water to force them to move faster
• A cow with a teat that had been sliced off, bleeding as she’s being milked
• Cows, many sick and injured, being hit, stomped on or kicked by workers
• Cows suffering bloody, painful uterine prolapses and open sores denied vet care
Cruelty is standard
In addition to these heartbreaking acts of violence, our video reveals the dark truth of standard industry practices. After they’re taken away from their mothers, baby calves at Martin Farms, and at 94 percent of U.S. dairies, endure hot irons burned into their flesh and bone to permanently destroy horns and growth tissue. Calves are tied up as a red-hot iron is pressed down on the sensitive nerves in their heads for several agonizing minutes.
“I find this footage the most disturbing, not only due to the extreme pain that these calves experience as part of their skull is burned away, but also because it is a glaring example of dairy mismanagement that results in cruelty. The calves are in agonizing pain, shown by their violent thrashing and bellowing.”
Dr. Holly Cheever, DVM
Even worse, this barbaric practice is completely unnecessary. The dairy industry could simply choose cows who genetically do not grow horns, yet only two percent of facilities currently do this. Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners recommend that farmers breed cows with hornless bulls in order to eliminate the need to remove calves’ horns.
That’s why we’re demanding that Nestlé end this cruel practice of horn removal once and for all, as well as urging the corporation to shift toward more vegan products.
• April 4, 2019 - PennLive: "Pa. dairy farm ‘appalled’ by gruesome video showing workers abusing cows"
• April 5, 2019 - ABC7 in Harrisburg: "Police investigating cruelty at Martin Farms"
• April 5, 2019 - PennLive: "Central PA farm retraining employees in wake of animal abuse allegations"
• April 5, 2019 - Fox43 in Harrisburg: "Video shows alleged abuse happening at Franklin County farm, PA State Police investigating"
• April 5, 2019 - PennLive: "State police investigating reported animal cruelty at Central PA farm"
• April 6, 2019 - PennLive: "Group behind PA farm abuse video hopes for viral coverage in crusade for animal rights"
• April 8, 2019 - Plant Based News: "Dairy Exposé Reveals Abuse On Farm Supplying Nestlé"
• April 8, 2019 - Public Opinion: "State police investigating Franklin County dairy farm accused of abusing cows"
• April 9, 2019 - Netzfrauen: "Nestlé's dairy company charged with animal abuse; Cows are beaten, kicked, tortured - Nestlé dairy supplier accused of animal abuse; cows being punched, kicked, stomped on"
The Ugly Truth About Milk
The dairy industry wants you to believe that milk comes from happy cows. But our investigations show the heartbreaking reality of dairy.
Behind every sip of milk or scoop of ice cream that comes from a cow, there is unacceptable abuse and exploitation. We're calling for criminal prosecution for the most egregious cruelty in this case, but this investigation also shows practices that are commonplace throughout the dairy industry yet so severely abusive that they'd result in criminal cruelty charges if inflicted on the dogs and cats in our homes. Dairy is a continuous, destructive cycle for female cows. Like all mammals, in order to produce milk, a cow must have recently given birth. Mother cows are tormented as their calves are separated from them almost immediately, and the milk meant for their babies is taken away and sold to humans. Then, she is re-impregnated and forced to repeat the process each year to keep producing often unnatural amounts of milk.
Female babies will likely enter the same cruel cycle as their moms, while most males will be confined to tiny crates or pens, then sold for veal or beef.
Forced to live in their own manure and abused daily, these farmed cows' natural lifespan of around 20 years is cut extremely short, as they succumb to disease and the exhausting toll constant milk production takes on their bodies. The average dairy cow is killed for beef, largely low-grade meat like hamburger, at just five years of age.
Support Our Undercover Heroes
Animal Outlook is dedicated to exposing the truth about factory farming and inspiring change. The profit-driven animal agriculture industry is extremely powerful and will do anything to stop our undercover investigations.
Undercover investigators provide our only window to the hidden horrors that occur on factory farms like this one, and investigations are expensive for a non-profit organization. That’s why we need your support. In a world where corporations exploiting animals and humans alike hold so many resources and so much influence, you can fight back with your generous donation. Any amount helps. Your contribution will support our brave investigators and groundbreaking legal work.
Thank you for taking action for animals. Donate today.
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Tell Nestlé to end cruel dehorning of cows and offer vegan options.