Farm workers punch, kick and hurl distressed young calves in shocking undercover footage revealing animals’ mistreatment before they are killed and turned into kebab meat and pet food
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Male calves, with little commercial value, collected from dairy farms in Midlands
- Undercover filming showed animals were beaten and deprived of food and water
- Farmer at the centre of the allegations has admitted that his staff were at fault
Shocking images of young calves being punched, kicked and abused have turned the spotlight on a dark secret behind industrial scale milk production.
The male calves, which have little commercial value, were collected from dairy farms in the Midlands and trucked to a collection centre prior to slaughter.
Undercover filming has revealed how the young animals were then beaten and, sometimes, deprived of food and water for long periods.
The farmer at the centre of the allegations has admitted that his staff were at fault and – after being approached by the Daily Mail – ceased trading with immediate effect.
He revealed that the cheap meat from the carcasses was typically turned into kebabs or pet food and often shipped to Poland for processing.
Dairy cows are routinely impregnated so they will give birth to calves and produce the milk which ends up on supermarket shelves. In theory any resulting bull calves should be sold on to be reared as beef animals, however thousands are deemed unsuitable with the result they are killed at a young age.
The footage was captured by the Animal Justice Project which, along with the RSPCA and expert vets, has condemned the way the calves were treated.
The alarming images were filmed at the Oakland Livestock Centre, which is near Shrewsbury. Some of the calves came from farms contracted to the dairy giant Müller, which sells milk to Sainsbury’s.
Müller has instructed its dairy farmers to cease supplying calves to Oakland with immediate effect, while Sainsbury’s has announced an urgent investigation into the ‘unacceptable practices’.
The male calves, which have little commercial value, were collected from dairy farms in the Midlands and trucked to a collection centre prior to slaughter
Undercover filming has revealed how the young animals were then beaten and, sometimes, deprived of food and water for long periods
The footage showed calves being thrown up and down trailer and truck ramps, lifted by their tails, kicked, kneed, punched, hit with sticks, dragged by their ears, jacket whipped, slapped and pushed.
Animal Justice Project founder, Claire Palmer, said: ‘This dealer was caught on camera brutally abusing calves and leaving them for many hours with no food or water – yet, naturally, these babies would still be with their mothers, drinking her milk constantly.
‘Some 65,000 calves were slaughtered last year because they were deemed ‘waste’ products by the dairy industry.’
She said there were also concerns about the way the calves were handled in the final moments before death at a slaughterhouse.
Veterinary expert, Molly Vasanthakumar, said: ‘Calves are very inquisitive and like all livestock, should be moved gently at their own pace. These incidents are highly distressing to watch.’
The RSPCA has reported the dealer involved to a government watchdog for an animal cruelty investigation. It said: ‘No animals should be kicked or punched. As soon as we received the footage we contacted the Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) to urge them to look into this as soon as possible.’
The farmer at the centre of the allegations has admitted that his staff were at fault and – after being approached by the Daily Mail – ceased trading with immediate effect
The owner of the Oakland Livestock Centre is Derek Whittall. He told the Daily Mail: ‘When I heard about this I ceased trading. I have just had enough.’
Asked whether the images showed poor handling of the calves, he said: ‘Of course it does, yes. It shouldn’t happen. What they’ve done is wrong, so I’ve stopped.’
Mr Whittall said his wife is recovering from a brain tumour and so the family has more important issues to deal with.
He said dealing with the unwanted bull calves from dairy cattle is a problem for the farming industry and there are aspects of the trade he does not like.
‘They will be a fortnight to three or four months old. There is no market for them at all, I’m afraid,’ he said.
‘The very little ones could go for pet food or kebabs or stuff like that. With the better ones, some of that meat will be exported. There other people in the south of England that are doing two of three times more than I was doing.’
Müller Milk & Ingredients said the bull calves sold by its dairy farm suppliers should be handled according to welfare standards ‘which are fully compliant with guidelines and best practice’.
It added: ‘In light of this evidence of mistreatment, we are therefore instructing farmers to cease supplying Oaklands with immediate effect.’
Sainsbury’s said: ‘We have processes in place to prevent these unacceptable practices and we are urgently investigating.’
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