Nestle's Nightmare: The Hard-to-Swallow Truth

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.

February 2022 Update:

On February 8, 2022, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, one of Pennsylvania’s two appellate courts, issued an opinion largely siding with Animal Outlook in its Martin Farms appeal. The appeal stemmed from a lower court’s February 2021 dismissal of Animal Outlook’s private criminal complaint alleging animal cruelty, aggravated cruelty, and neglect against Martin Farms and more than a dozen employees, after the District Attorney’s office refused to prosecute. The complaint was based on Animal Outlook’s 2018 undercover investigation, which led Animal Outlook to present to the Pennsylvania State Police and the District Attorney’s office a list of 327 incidents it determined to be violations of Pennsylvania’s criminal protection laws, many of which were captured on video.

In a 28-page opinion, the Superior Court recounted the lengthy factual history of the case, analyzed our arguments alleging the trial court had committed legal error, and ultimately concluded that Animal Outlook had demonstrated sufficient evidence of neglect and cruelty as it relates to Martin Farms’ handling of downed cows, excessive shocking and tail pulling, and disbudding of calves. The Court further held that Martin Farms’ conduct associated with these practices was not exempted from prosecution under Pennsylvania’s “normal agricultural operation” exemption.

The Superior Court reversed the lower court’s dismissal of Animal Outlook’s private criminal complaint as it relates to these incidents. The Superior Court then directed the lower court to order the prosecutor to accept Animal Outlook’s complaint and initiate prosecution for these incidents documented during our investigation.

We have never had any doubt that the cruelty and neglect revealed by our investigation is squarely within the scope of the conduct prohibited by Pennsylvania law and have long believed that if we were given access to fair and thorough process under the law, this cruelty would be recognized. We’re grateful that the Superior Court did just that here, thoughtfully considering the weight of evidence from our undercover investigation that showed beyond any shadow of a doubt that Martin Farms’ conduct violated Pennsylvania’s animal protection laws. The Court’s ruling that even so-called standard practices such as disbudding vulnerable calves with hot irons and without pain medication are not immune from prosecution sends a clear message that animals used in agriculture are worthy of protection.

Animal Outlook was assisted in the appeal by local counsel, Mays and Rotenberg

August 2, 2021 Update:

Following our investigation at Martin Farms, Animal Outlook urged the Franklin County District Attorney to pursue criminal charges against the farm and employees involved. Despite Animal Outlook’s full cooperation, the District Attorney announced more than a year after the investigation that he would not pursue criminal charges. Animal Outlook’s legal team used a unique procedure in Pennsylvania law to file a private criminal complaint, which the District Attorney also declined. In September 2020, Animal Outlook petitioned the Court of Common Pleas to reverse the District Attorney’s decision. The court declined our petition. Unwilling to abandon the pursuit of justice for the suffering cows at Martin Farms, Animal Outlook has appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and is asking that court to overturn the Court of Common Pleas’ decision and require the District Attorney to institute criminal charges against Martin Farms and its employees. We have filed two briefs and are currently awaiting a schedule for oral argument before the Superior Court.

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.

"As a mother, I often think about this violence and the shattering of the mother-infant bond the dairy industry relies upon to exist."

Cheryl Leahy
Animal Outlook

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.


• March 18, 2022 - Vermont Law School : VLS Alum Paves Way For Farmed Animal Protection And Future Animal Lawyers

• March 12, 2022 - The Crime Report: Definition of Animal Cruelty Gets New Scrutiny in PA

• March 9, 2022 - Vox : Most animal cruelty is legal on the farm. A judge is questioning that.

• March 8, 2022 - Vox : Animal Outlook's investigation could influence the future of animal law

• March 1, 2022 - : Normal Agricultural Operations Exception Shouldnt Derail Animal Abuse Prosecution Appeals Court Rules

• February 28, 2022 - The Farm Buzz : Dairy Supplier Faces Animal Cruelty Charges

• February 28, 2022 - One Green Planet : Animal Law Updates that Improved the World for Animals this Month

• February 25, 2022 - UnChained TV : Breaking News: Huge Legal Breakthrough For Animal Rights!

• February 23, 2022 - The Beet : Former Nestle Dairy Supplier to Face Animal Cruelty Charges

• February 22, 2022 - Sentient Media : After Three-Year Legal Battle, Justice Is Served at Pennsylvania Mega-Dairy

• February 17, 2022 - Vegnews : Legal Victory: Former Nestle Dairy Supplier To Face Prosecution For Animal Cruelty

• February 16, 2022 - Ladyfreethinker : "New Ruling Could Mean Criminal Charges For Dairy Exposed In Cruelty Investigation"

• February 14, 2022 - ABC7 : "Superior court ruling could open door to animal abuse charges at Pa. dairy farm"

• 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.

Act Now

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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