UPDATE: The Mercy For Animals blog reported that an arrest was made for one of the workers at Conklin Dairy Farm who was documented in the video torturting the cows. Billy Gregg Jr. was taken into custody on 12 counts of animal cruelty.
In an uncanny twist of fate, two contrasting stories have come to light on the same day about the treatment of cows at commercial dairy farms. One story documents an extreme case of abuse in Ohio while the second story shows the decency in human nature as a supermarket chain in the U.K. launches a nationwide humane program.
The first story comes from Ohio where the animal welfare organization called Mercy For Animals released explicit video to The Associated Press that showed workers at the Conklin Dairy Farm, “beating cows with crowbars, stabbing them with pitchforks and punching them in their heads.”
The video was recorded by an undercover investigator. Mercy For Animals is a non-profit animal welfare group that focuses on exposing cruel practices in the dairy, meat and egg industries. Last year they revealed abuse to newborn male chicks at an egg hatchery in Iowa. The egg industry considers male chicks to be worthless because they can’t lay eggs and kills them shortly after they are born, but workers at the hatchery in Iowa were unnecessarily cruel and abusive to the chicks.
The new video filmed at Conklin Dairy Farms shows extreme abuse at this facility too. It documented workers holding down newborn calves and stomping on their heads and one worker wiring a cow’s nose to a metal bar while repeatedly beating it with a second bar.
Mercy For Animals’ executive director, Nathan Runkle said, “The documented abuse violates Ohio’s anti-animal cruelty statute.” The group presented the video and other evidence it collected to the prosecutor’s office on May 25.
Ironically a positive story was just released in Britain from the country’s second largest grocery chain. Sainsbury’s has launched a plan that will increase the standards for the health and well-being of cows for all of the 334 dairy farmers that supply the company with milk products.
The plan took three years to develop and has the support of veterinarians, farmers and animal welfare groups. And the new requirements will not translate into more cost to the consumer.
Annie Graham who is head of Sainsbury’s agriculture department said, “In the past, standards have focused on the farm environment, but we believe our scheme is unique because it uses an ‘outcome approach’ that focuses on the cow health and welfare outcomes that our customers want to see.”
Forty percent of Sainsbury’s customers cited animal welfare as their top concern for products.
Cows will be checked twice a year by an independent veterinary team for nine key areas. Some of these areas include: lameness, mastitis, nutrition, housing, transport and disease. Sainsbury’s will pay for the examinations and the company will be kept updated on the condition of all the cows.
Sainsbury’s believes farmers will also benefit from the program. They will have healthier cows that produce more milk and will ultimately save them money. Another grocery chain called Marks & Spencer started a similar program, but they give cash rewards to the farmers with the healthiest cows.
Hayley Campbell-Gibbons of the National Farmers Union made this comment, “It is an example of the way the industry should be moving….and the good work British dairy farmers are doing.”
photo credit: thanks to Cathy, Sam, Max Mai via flickr