Investigation into cow abuse at Fl dairy farm: Publix suspends milk deliveries

Disturbing surveillance video at an Okeechobee, Florida dairy farm which sells and distributes milk to Publix supermarkets has prompted an investigation for cow abuse and cruelty. Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen, announced an investigation is currently underway, and stated the focus is on three workers at the dairy operation; criminal charges are likely to filed.

The video and extensive report, released on Thursday morning by Miami based animal cruelty investigative organization, Animal Recovery Mission, (ARM) detailed workers at the Larson Dairy located in Okeechobee brutally kicking cows in the face and body, beating them with metal rods and mercilessly poking them inside of the barn and milking stalls if the cows didn’t immediately cooperate.

“Cows are ridiculed and tormented as they are maneuvered to the milk production lines by the use of electrical prods, withstanding violent and excessive force. Cows are beaten into submission with metal construction rods known as rebar. Undercover agents documented several forms of ‘home-made’ torture tools including a spear-like weapon that is used to repeatedly stab the animal in the ribs, inflicting wounds that are left untreated. They are also beaten over their heads and bodies with these rods… the cows fall to the ground.”

The undercover investigation began in August when an investigator with ARM procured a job milking cows at the dairy and “captured and documented extensive and widespread abuse.” According to Richard “Kudo” Couto, the investigator worked at the farm during August and September, but had to leave when he became ill. The “disturbing and horrific” violence towards the animals went on everyday, and according to reports, the undercover worker was constantly harassed for not picking up metal rebars and beating the cows.

“Every single person including the manager and foreman were beating them to death,” Kudo reported. “It saddens me knowing these cows are still in the hands of such abusers. The unfortunate reality is the abusive practices we found at Larson are a plague across much of the dairy industry.”

Several hours after the video was posted on social media, Publix suspended the purchase of raw milk from the farm which it buys through the dairy cooperative – Southeast Milk.

The farm has been owned and operated by the Larson family since 1947 and has been in Okeechobee County since 1971. The owner, Jacob Larson issued the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened and appalled by the actions in this video, which first came to our attention this morning. The unusual use of force is simply unacceptable on our dairy or on any other farm.

We have strict protocols involving animal care and clearly the behavior shown in this video goes against everything we stand for and will not be tolerated. The employee involved and feature in the video has been terminated. Further corrective action will be taken if necessary as we continue to analyze the video and conduct our own on-farm investigation.

We are equally concerned about the manner in which this video was brought to our attention. Had the “undercover” employee brought this to our attention when it occurred we may have been able to prevent it earlier.

Dairy farmers have the utmost responsibility to compassionately care for our animals and this is not an adequate reflection of how we do that on a daily basis.”

(Photos courtesy of Animal Recovery Mission)

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Video: Graphic – May not be suitable for all viewing audiences. (Absolutely heartbreaking that this is the daily life of a dairy cow .)

Nothing ‘adorable’ about a cow trying to escape last ride to slaughterhouse

A viral video has been making its rounds through social media after a motorist filmed a cow poking her head out of a cattle truck while travelling down a busy Melbourne highway on Wednesday. Viewers commented the cow looked “adorable” and “hilarious.” Where else could a truck full of cattle be heading besides the nearest slaughterhouse?

“Hamilton Barrow Willis That’s not “an adorable sight” because that panicked cow was probably being shipped to slaughter along with dozens of her fellow cattle. That was her desperate attempt to escape being killed for her flesh and hide.”

According to Channel9News, the video which was uploaded to Facebook and a person could be heard saying:

“What the hell is that?,” one person asked.

“It’s a cow,” someone else says. “It’s going to hit the top of the thing.”

The onlookers managed to get the driver’s attention to tell him one of the cows had been trying to escape. The cow did safely pass under the sign and was not harmed. Whereas many comments on Facebook referred to the cow’s attempted last chance at freedom as cute and hilarious, perhaps too many people still believe in

” Old MACDONALD had a farm
And on his farm he had a cow
With a moo moo here
And a moo moo there
Here a moo, there a moo
Everywhere a moo moo
Old MacDonald had a farm

where all the cows lived happily ever after gracefully offering their milk to the farmers who loved and cared for them. Sadly, a slaughterhouse was likely this frightened cow’s last stop.

(Photo via screenshot of Facebook video)


Cruel improvisation of weaning plate for baby calf stirs ire with animal advocates

In Joubertina,  located on the eastern cape of  South Africa, the SPCA Assisi Humansdrop, came to the aid of a baby calf on Friday. Inspector Benjamin received a complaint about a cow with a “wooden device” tied to her face. When the inspector arrived at the field, he was shocked. Wooden logs had nails facing outward from the mouth of the calf.

Inspector Benjamin tried to remove the contraption from the calf, but was unable and therefore drove into the town where he could locate the owner of the calf. After searching for more than 40 minutes, the owner was located:

“What is that thing for?,” the inspector asked.

The owner told the inspector his calf had grown up, however it wouldn’t stop nursing from his mother. He devised the contraption so whenever the calf would try to nurse from his mother, the nails would stick the mother in her belly and she would kick the baby away.

According to the Atlantic, on most farms, calves are weaned from their mother when they’re about six months old. The little ones are introduced to a new diet, a new environment, and they have to learn new rules of social organization with their fellow calves. As weaning is necessary on cattle farms because the mothers are quickly re-bred, and if a mother is still nursing her previous calf while gestating a new one, energy is taken away from the growing calf within the mother cow’s body. 

No doubt there is significant stress when separating a mother cow from her calf, some beef farms have been taking a more humane approach. Just one of the many alternative approaches is “fenceline weaning”—also called “nose to nose weaning”—because it seems more humane than traditional. Mothers and their calves briefly live on opposite sides of a slatted metal gate once separated. The mothers are led into the pastures everyday, but allowed to return to the barn area to check on their babies. Every day they can touch, smell and call to each other, but the baby can not reach to nurse. After ten days, the mother comes back to the barn less and less to check on her baby – and when the calves no longer call out for their mothers and are eating well, they are moved on to new pastures.

Weaning rings are a  sad reality of both dairy and beef farming, but humane and compassionate treatment should never be condoned. Even a nylon calf weaner, (costing $2.00 each) is durable and easy to apply. It can be left on for a few days and then removed. No calf should have to walk around with a log attached to his face.

Animal advocates expressed their outrage concerning the farmer after he was just issued a warning and ordered to remove the device. According to Inspector Benjamin, the calf could not even graze. Many of the comments echoed these feelings:

Kerry: “The scary thing is, it’s a crude version of a device that is commonly used by farmers worldwide, anyone know that??? My question is why is everyone throwing a fit about this, but quite happy to drink the milk, eat the meat etc. from sources that practice the same barbaric methods???? Because we don’t see it, it comes beautifully packaged on our supermarkets shelves!!!”

Follow the conversation on Facebook here. What do you think?

(Photo of baby calf via SPCA Assisi Humansdrop)

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Desperate mother cow follows her baby calf as he is taken away for slaughter

In a desperate attempt to help her baby calf as he is carted away by farmers heading to the slaughter houses for veal, the mother cow’s deep maternal cries are heartbreaking. It was a day the young calves were separated from their mothers; it was a day that sentient mother cows mourned the loss of their babies. Tragically, this is the sad reality of the meat industry, and even though this scene is not taking place in the United States, there’s no reason to think conditions are any better in farming counties across America.

The video, posted on the Facebook page, Glass Walls, an organization that documents the stories of the realities of factory farming and the abuses of the industries supporting cruelty and abject neglect for the welfare of all animals. On the organization’s Facebook page, the details about the video could make any compassionate person sob:

“While traditionally the meat and dairy industries are interlinked, some farms breed cattle for ‘meat production’ only. In these farms calves are normally reared by their mothers until they are involuntarily weaned then fattened and prepared for brutal slaughter. (You can notice the size difference between this cow’s udder and those of dairy cows.)

The video depicts the moment of separation, when the calves are being taken away from their mothers for good. The cows will be inseminated time and time again to produce the next batch of “meat” and will grieve for their lost calves each time they are taken away from them.

In the video a heartless man can be heard laughing ‘I feel like seeing her on the BBQ'”.

Watch the short video here: (It is not graphic – just sad). (Photo for desperate mother cow screenshot via video Facebook of Glass Walls.)

Teen who abused cows blames cruelty on ‘split with his girlfriend’

A 19-year-old farm worker from Somerset blamed the abuse and torture of cows because he “split with his girlfriend” months earlier. On Monday, Owen Nichol appeared at Taunton Magistrate’s Court and pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to cows by hitting or kicking them and to causing unnecessary suffering to one or more calves by throwing them on the floor, kicking and stomping on them at Pyyland Farm near Taunton, Somerset.

In an undercover video, animal activists from Animal Equality recorded the footage which showed Nichol kicking a cow in the face, stomping on a newborn calf several times and kicking the cow who just gave birth into the gate yelling:

“I f*cking hate you you little c*nt.”

According to Metro News, Nichol’s tantrum of abuse continued for almost a half-hour. Testifying veterinarians stated the animals suffered terribly. Toni Shepard, from the animal protection organization, installed the camera on December 7 following a report from a local resident. Soon after that, the disturbing footage emerged and the RSPCA launched their investigation referring to the cruelty as the worst they have ever seen. The owner of the farm was appalled when he viewed the video and fired Nichol immediately.

“To see tiny calves and cows who had just given birth being punched and kicked and sworn at in such an aggressive manner, I found really shocking,” stated Shepard. “We are pleased that he has been convicted for this terrible violence against dairy cows and young calves, and we hope that he will receive the harshest sentence possible.”

The case has been carried over until April 26 for pre-sentencing reports. Nichol’s faces a punishment ranging from community service to 12-weeks in prison.

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(Photos via Animal Equality video and Metro News.)

The video is very disturbing and may not be suitable for all audiences. Please use discretion. The video can be viewed here.

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