Calves’ horns burned off, cows hung and pushed by tractors, shot in the head
April 4, 2019 — Working inside Martin Farms, a dairy factory farm in Chambersburg, Penn. supplying one of the nation’s top ice cream brands — owned by Nestlé, a Compassion Over Killing (COK) undercover investigator documented senseless and violent abuse of mother cows and their defenseless calves.
The new footage reveals some of the worst abuse COK has ever documented, and yet it also shows practices representative of what life is like for animals on a typical dairy farm.
COK’s 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’s finally shot for the last time
- Farm 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
COK has submitted its evidence to the Pennsylvania State Police and the Franklin County District Attorney and is calling for prompt enforcement action.
After following a truck directly from Martin Farms, COK’s undercover investigator ended up at a massive plant producing Dreyer’s ice cream, a Nestlé-owned brand. When alerted to our video and documented abuse, Nestlé responded that it immediately severed ties with Martin Farms. However, the company has still failed to address the systemic nature of the issues COK’s investigation uncovered.
The new investigation reveals the cruel yet standard practices in the dairy industry — including the heartbreaking separation of newborn calves from their mothers, and the painful searing off of calves’ newly growing horns with a hot iron without anesthesia. In 2014, Nestlé committed to reforming this practice in its supply chain, but COK’s investigation raises questions about what these commitments really mean.
Currently, 94% of the dairy industry engages in this unnecessary practice. The industry could choose to breed their cows with bulls who genetically do not grow horns, as has been recommended by both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.
Investigations like this and COK’s 2017 footage from another Pennsylvania dairy farm show just how common cruelty is in this industry. COK is urging Nestlé to step up as an industry leader rather than attempt to simply wash its hands clean of the abuse caught on hidden camera on this one farm.
Nestle can — and should — implement immediate systemic changes: end disbudding and dehorning in its supply chain and move toward offering more vegan products to meet the growing consumer demand.
“Behind every sip of milk or scoop of ice cream that comes from a cow, there is unacceptable abuse and exploitation,” said Cheryl Leahy, General Counsel, Compassion Over Killing. “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.”
Adds Leahy, “As a mother myself, I often think about this violence and the shattering of the mother-infant bond the dairy industry relies upon to exist.”
For investigative footage, please visit: COK.net/DitchDairy
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Compassion Over Killing (COK) is a nonprofit animal protection organization working to end the abuse of farmed animals through undercover investigations, litigation, corporate outreach, public education, and other advocacy programs. cok.net