Caught on camera: cows being kicked, beaten, and viciously whipped in the face and on their bodies. Sick and injured cows suffering with open wounds and nasty infections. Cows dragged by their necks and fragile legs with a chain hooked to a tractor. What sounds like a nightmare or the premise of a horror movie is actually the real life of dairy cows at Wiese Brothers Farms in Wisconsin, a major supplier of cheese for DiGiorno frozen pizzas. Animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, has it all on video after they sent an undercover investigator to the farm in October of this year.
Among the repeated instances of animal abuse happening at Wiese Brothers Farms, the cows also lived in filthy conditions, often standing, slipping, and injuring themselves on the feces-covered floors. There was also the unfortunate industry-standard occurrence of calves being taken away from their mothers moments after being born and having their tails docked without anesthetics.
MFA explains: “In order to keep a steady supply of milk, the cows are repeatedly impregnated. Several times a day, dairy cows are hooked by their udders to electric milking machines that can cause the cows to suffer painful lesions and mastitis. Some spend their entire lives standing on concrete floors; others are crammed into massive mud lots.”
Dr. Temple Grandin, a leading expert in farmed animal welfare, had this to say after viewing the undercover footage: “Dragging live cows, and completely suspending them with the cow lift is severe animal abuse. The actions of these people went beyond rough handling and escalated to the level of cruelty. Kicking, beating, and hard whipping of downed cows is abusive.”
Dr. Bernard Rollin, Dr. Terry Engle, and William Wailes of the Animal Sciences Department at Colorado State University, said in a joint statement that the footage uncovered “horrifying and nightmarish abuses of dairy cattle by workers” and that “these uncaring and sadistic individuals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by the law, and should be barred from ever working with animals again.”
There is some good news, though. Deborah Cross, a spokesperson for Nestlé’s pizza division, which manufactures DiGiorno pizza, has announced that they will no longer be using Wiese Brothers Farms as a supplier of dairy products. “Nestlé is outraged and deeply saddened by the mistreatment of animals shown in this video,” said Cross. “…we will not accept any cheese made with milk from the Wiese Brothers Farm.”
The owners of Wiese Brothers Farms announced that they were “shocked and saddened” by what the footage revealed and that they have “zero tolerance” for animal abuse. They have since terminated two employees and removed a third employee from “animal handling” responsibilities, according to their statement. “Further action will be taken if the investigation warrants it,” they added. Local police are also investigating the alleged abuse.
“No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate and neglect animals,” said MFA’s executive director, Nathan Runkle. “Due to its complete lack of meaningful animal welfare standards, DiGiorno has allowed a culture of cruelty to flourish in its cheese supply chain.”
You can end the far-too-common cycle of abuse against dairy cows by switching to vegan alternatives to cheese, butter, and other dairy products.
Click here to see the undercover footage that Mercy for Animals revealed, but know that it is not for the faint of heart. Viewer discretion is advised.
Photo credit: Mercy for Animals / Facebook.com