New calf abuse video rocks the dairy industry.

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November 15, 2013 by dairycarrie

On Thursday a new undercover video showing abuse of dairy calves in Colorado was released by  the animal rights group, Compassion Over Killing. The video shows calves being handled roughly, it shows dead calves and it shows footage that makes my heart hurt. The video was shot in an area of Colorado that is still dealing with the aftermath of the extreme flooding that hit the state this summer, it’s an area that is filled with farms and agriculture and it’s home to a good friend of mine who dairy farms with her husband. When I saw the video the very first person I called was Ashley.

I met Ashley this last winter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were both there as participants in the Holstein Foundation’s Young Dairy Leadership Institute (YDLI).  Ashley is a hilarious woman who stands out in crowd and she and I became fast friends that week. She and I share a similar path into the dairy industry.  Our love for horses was our introduction into agriculture and we both met dairy men and married them. Ashley is quick to call herself a “mail order bride” she and her husband met on farmersonly.com and she moved from thoroughbred horses in Virginia to dairy cows in Colorado. She and her husband Steve and their 3 kids, Campbell 10, Andrew 4 and Blake 5 months are very much a family farm even though they have 5 times the number of cows that we have on our farm.

I asked Ashley to share her thoughts on the video and what it feels like to have this kind of thing happen in your back yard. She sent me the following and I wanted to share her response with all of you.
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Colorado Dairy Farmer Speaks Up On Calf Abuse Video

Dairy Calf Abuse Video, Family caring about their cattle

Our milk co-op contacted my husband Steve around 2 in the afternoon to let us know a video showing animal abuse had surfaced. We thought we would have to explain to a few friends on Facebook how the images they saw were rare instances and didn’t happen on our farm, and our friends’ farms. Then we learned it happened in our community.  On a calf raising facility that we often drive past. That made it even more personal.  This wasn’t an incident in a state on the other side of the country. This was in our town.  A town with a long, rich history of agriculture and a small, close-knit population.  People weren’t going to differentiate between an operation raising calves for the beef industry and local dairy farms.

I drove past the farm in question on my way to pick up our 10-year-old daughter at school. I was on the phone with our milk check off program, Western Dairy Association. They asked if Steve and I would be up for an interview on the news because we in the industry knew that whatever was on the video wasn’t standard practice, but we needed our consumers, the general public, to understand that as horrible as the video might be, those of us that spend our days caring for animals are even more sickened by it than words can describe.

 My first thought was “can we do an interview and help people understand this isn’t normal?”  Well, actually my first thought was really “I need to run home and put on pants before I go on tv”.   I happened to be in yoga pants and flip-flops.  But I was really worried that we wouldn’t be taken seriously. That people wouldn’t believe that we don’t condone abuse towards animals. That we really care about them.  I needed people to see our reality.

Calf Abuse in Colorado

 Our reality is that like 99% of the dairies in Colorado, we are family owned and operated.  My husband started his dairy almost 13 years ago. He worked 2 jobs to save money to buy cows and lease a facility.  Then he milked his cows and worked another job to keep improving and expanding.  I spent 4 years feeding calves twice a day seven days a week until the demands of the dairy and the demands of our growing family couldn’t be balanced.   Our son was 5 days old the first time I strapped him into a Baby Bjorn and fed 40 calves twice a day.  Our youngest daughter was 9 days old the first time she had to feed calves with me. Our oldest daughter has more driving experience at 10 years old than many adults because she has been driving the calf feeding truck since she was 7.

 Our reality is that like a lot of farm children, ours spend a lot of time with us while we are working.  They see everything we do.  As dairy producers, we not only have to answer to our consumers, we have to answer to our children.  I have to answer to my children.  We need to be able to look them in the eye when they ask a question and give them an honest answer and keep their respect.  We all know how honest children are.  If you screw up, they will out you. By working with their parents, farm children learn to respect animals.  They learn from a young age how to feed and care for animals. They learn how important it is that they be well fed. That they have fresh water at all times. That in the winter they have a warm bed.

Colorado Dairy Farm Family with calf

  Our reality is that dairy is our life. Our animals buy our groceries, and Christmas presents and pay for braces and check-ups for our children.  We take care of our animals because it is the right thing to do. We have an obligation to them. And the better we are to them, the better they produce for us, so we can keep making improvements on the dairy, to keep making their lives more comfortable.

The day the video broke, I had to stand outside our dairy and while being filmed, watch a video showing a couple of really bad human beings doing a really bad job of handling calves.  I was sick. I was disgusted and I was mad.  I don’t understand the mentality of picking on things smaller or weaker than you. And I’m okay with that. I don’t want to understand why those workers thought it was okay to pull calves by their ears, or by their tails.  What I’m not okay with is the person doing the filming not standing up and stopping the abuse right there. Because any dairy farmer would have done that. We love our animals. We respect our animals, and we don’t allow abuse to continue just to get good footage.

On our dairy we have SOPs to cover everything. From a cow that may have trouble standing up because she isn’t feeling well, to a calf that is getting sick. We also have a hard and fast rule that you are not allowed to hit an animal. With anything. EVER. It is a firing offense, no warning given. We have video cameras placed in our parlor, our holding pen and elsewhere on our dairy so that if we do have an employee doing something wrong, we can address it immediately.  We have had new employees quit because they weren’t allowed to so much as yell at the cows.  Stressed cows don’t give as much milk. We pay our bills by selling milk. You can see how less milk might be a problem.  Like many farmers, we have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in our cows.  There is no way that we would abuse, or allow any abuse by employees, of valuable animals.

As a mom, and a dairy farmer, I wish every child in the world received the same care as the average US dairy cow. Our cows have the benefit of a nutritionist creating their diet. They have that carefully concocted ration in front of them 24 hours a day. They have fresh, clean water 24 hours a day. They have fluffy sand beds.  They have exercise corrals where they can soak up the Colorado sunshine. We have herd health checks every two weeks that involve our vet coming and checking for pregnancy in some cows, looking over our herd and helping us keep up our protocol with vaccinations etc. Our cows receive regular hoof care. There are over a dozen people that we employ or contract to keep our cows healthy and in excellent physical condition. Wouldn’t it be nice if every child had the same interest taken in them?

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Each time a video of abuse comes out dairy farmers like me and my family and Ashley and her family are left trying to defend our livelihoods  Instead of the general population seeing abuse as the sick exception to the quality care we give our animals, we are thrown under the bus along with the abusers. I often wonder why people understand that the vast majority of parents don’t abuse their kids despite the horrible stories of abuse on the news, but they are so quick to judge farmers as all the same when a rare video comes to the news.

The bottom line is this. No one abhors animal abuse more than farmers. We see the same videos you do and we hate it. Please don’t let these groups manipulate your feelings with their videos and propaganda.  

65 thoughts on “New calf abuse video rocks the dairy industry.

  1. Very well said. We will continue to show our support of farmers nation wide. Keep staying awesome. Those photos were beautiful. Jersey cows are (and I hate to this) my favourite….I know…having a favourite, how could I? ha ha. Stay safe and have a lovely day!

  2. Lynn Meschke says:

    Very well written and great response. Yes, abuse happens to everything, unfortunately, people forget that people even abuse their children. Remembering it is rare and not the norm is what is important. We hope with each incidence that surfaces will bring awareness and prevent it from happening elsewhere.

  3. Stephanie Lamoreux says:

    Great article Dairy Carrie! I am a teacher and married to a beef/grain farmer. We have feeder cattle and our own herd of cows for breeding stock. What people don’t stop and think while making a mass generalization about livestock farmers; is that there are people in the world that heartbreakingly to me, abuse their children. Now, that doesn’t make me stop and look at every family and generalize that all parents are abusive. People need to stop exploiting the situation in agriculture. Yes, there are terrible people raising animals and children in the world. They should be punished; however, to make a generalization about all farmers or parents is ludicrous. Got milk? And Go Beef!

  4. Laurie Savage says:

    I think using this incident to say all/many farmers abuse their animals is similar to hearing about a child abuser and likening all parents to being child abusers.

  5. sven says:

    good article. 99% of farmers do not abuse animals. It’s sad that this video is used as propaganda, but I do think most people see through that immediately.

  6. Reblogged this on Rodeos and Red Lipstick and commented:
    Great to finally see someone address the positives of the agricultural industry and show incidents like this are NOT normal practices.

  7. Anjanette Shadley Martin says:

    Very well written, I can “feel” your heartfelt emotion and I am sure others can too. I, too fed calves for our dairy for 12 years and our oldest child was doing chores by 3 or 4 years old. We have since sold the farm and moved to town after my husband milked cows for 25 yrs. I brought a sickly runt calf that was sure to pass but laid with her every day in the barn on a fresh straw for a month she lived. It’s not the norm to abuse any animal, from a cat to a dog to a horse, pig or cow. Thank you for standing up for agriculture and your community and most important your family.

  8. Rheanna Melcher says:

    Unfortunately this is another situation where one bad apple spoils the whole bushel. One bad situation makes the rest of us in the livestock industry look bad. I watched the video until I couldn’t watch anymore. It made me both sad and angry. Shame on them! We all should follow your example of continuing to get the word out that these practices are not OK and as the previous commenter said is not the norm!

  9. Thanks for another poignant post, Carrie. It can not be said enough that farmers and ranchers are even more disgusted with animal abuse then the people holding those cameras.

  10. iloveag says:

    Give me about 2 weeks on any real, operating ranch or dairy farm, with unfettered access, and I will create a video that will make anyone look like an “abuser.” Stuff happens, no matter how much we work to avoid bad situations. Until all farmers and ranchers realize this and stop distancing themselves from “the abusers,” our enemies will continue to take us down, one at a time.

    What I saw in this video (which took me about 10 minutes to find) was not nearly as bad as the build-up made me think it was going to be. The calves were being handled roughly (and I would want my employees to be better trained), but there were no instances of abuse as I would define it. The facility was immaculate and the calves looked to be in good condition. Here is the video link. http://www.cok.net/inv/quanah/ Charges have been filed against the “abusers.” I hope the videographer is considered to be one!

    The entire site (Compassion Over Killing) is disturbing, because it’s obvious that they do not really care about animal welfare. They want to end the use of animals. They have a blatant vegetarian/vegan agenda, and anyone who thinks that this was about “abuse” is kidding him/herself.

    This little poem: http://iloveag.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/the-bad-actor/

    and this article: http://iloveag.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/our-own-worst-enemies/

    sum up how I view our responses to our enemies as leading to our own demise. For what it’s worth.

    Dairy Carrie, you and your family are wonderful, and Ashley and her family are wonderful. I love you, I love your products, and I love agriculture! I just want everyone to understand that it’s not about how good we are…how well we take care of our animals…how much money we spend improving our facilities and our processes. These people, who are not and never will be our consumers, do not want us in business. Period.

    My heart, my condolences and my support go out to Quanah Cattle Co.

    • I’m a skeptic and animal rights activist. The former came after the latter and understanding my own bias I give special attention to reports like these with groups who have an agenda. It’s with that that I tweeted looking for a response like this post, thank you for that. I was hoping to hear that the claim on the page (which has been altered I now see) that this is industry standard is untrue.

      Still, this comment by iloveag confirms by suspicions that this not all farmer share your concerns for animal welfare and consider them simple commodities. Who’s attitude best represents animal agriculture?

      • iloveag says:

        I proudly run my cattle operation for profit! Cattle and beef are commodities that are in demand, and I love catering to consumers while endeavoring to take excellent care of the animals that provide my livelihood. Even if I were not soft-hearted, the profit motive would incent me to constantly improve animal handling techniques, natural-behavior-catering facilities and nutrition and animal health procedures.

        The consumption of meat is a normal human activity, and at no point in history have animals been better cared for or more humanely raised and slaughtered. Meat eaters should be pleased, too, that efficiency is at an all-time high. We produce more beef with fewer resources than ever before!

        Cattle convert roughage to a usable human food that is very nutrient-dense. It is much more environmentally friendly to transport a truckload of meat than a truckload of grain, given the nutrient value.

        I love agriculture and I love free markets that lead to the best possible outcomes for society and the environment! Contrary to what animal rights activists and other enemies of private property propagate, we treat our animals well because of — not despite — the profit motive.

      • iloveag,

        In your comment you said of the video:
        “there were no instances of abuse as I would define it.”
        Do you think the charges being filed over this are unfair then?

      • iloveag says:

        PythaCrank, under what law have these people been charged? What are the specific charges against them? I’ve been unable to find answers to these questions (but have not spent heaps of time looking, as I’ve been busy with other things).

        I personally would not support a law or regulation that calls for criminal charges based on what I saw. I would oppose any such law on the basis that it unfairly impinges upon private property rights.

        If there is a law already on the books, though, it should be applied and enforced consistently. I severely dislike the fact that someone would film this type of footage without trying to stop it. If it had been me, I would have notified the owner right away and endeavored to improve the situation. So if the men roughly handling the calves are charged, I think the videographer should be charged as well.

        Compassion over killing people, though, are not concerned with true animal welfare. They want an end to all animal agriculture. Period. They will do whatever they can to stop the use of animals, and the end justifies the means in their minds. This is horrendous and I do not approve at all.

      • iloveag says:

        I mean people involved with “Compassion Over Killing” in my reference above. 🙂

      • “I personally would not support a law or regulation that calls for criminal charges based on what I saw. I would oppose any such law on the basis that it unfairly impinges upon private property rights.”

        And this sums up the fight for animal rights.

        The authors of this blog and guest post both found this behavior reprehensible, yet you didn’t (and got the most likes). My original skepticism of this video balanced on this being an isolated incident. But the differences of attitudes here makes me think that it’s true that when lives of animals are commoditized, they will never be ensured protection or decent livelihood.

        Can anybody (in ag) counter iloveag’s attitudes on the treatment of animals in this video and/or explain the difference in opinion?

        • Iloveag says:

          Pytha, you are being intentionally deceptive. This is not “us versus them” within the Ag world. At no point did I say that this is common practice. I do not think it is.

          The people who allow for rough treatment of their animals are the first to suffer. Profitability decreases when animals are treated roughly. Your fundamental premise is flawed.

          It is simply not necessary to waste taxpayer money prosecuting actions which are not abusive but which will be punished through economics in any case.

      • Iloveag but you don’t find the treatment of the animals in this video to be rough?

        • Kitty Jones says:

          Iloveag stated that it was rough, and that she didn’t condone it, but after watching it I don’t believe they were going out of their way to “abuse” the calves. If they were, the calves in question would not be as healthy as they clearly are. In this case I fully agree that if the workers are going to be charged with animal cruelty, the one doing the filming definitely should be. If the photographer could take a video camera in solely for the purpose of filming blatant propaganda rather than helping the animals in question, it proves that they care nothing for the animals and that fact should nullify the point they were trying to make in airing the footage. The type of nonsense shown in the video can and has been prevented when the people in charge take the time to educate new workers.

    • Yeo-dairyman says:

      I agree with iloveag’s assertion that the video did not live up to the buildup the self-proclaimed “agvocates” have given it. I did not see willful abuse. What I saw was some uncaring employees in Ashley’s own words “doing a really bad job handling calves.” Facilities were clean, and the animals were healthy. The missing piece was the owner. I agree with Ashley’s statement that any dairy farmer would have immediately put a stop to the mistreatment. When a farm becomes so big that the owner(s) cannot either do or directly supervise all work themselves, it has become too big. Sure, 98% of farms might be family-owned, but are they all family operated? If all farms had the direct involvement of the owner (s) in all daily activities, there would be no need for “agvocates” or industry standardization programs. The profit motive would be enough to ensure the best possible care.

      • maria says:

        Would you mind explaining exactly how the “profit motive” drives taking better care of animals? Particularly non-dairy cattle or other food animals. I am trying to be open minded, It is just so hard to wrap my mind around producing “meat” at the highest efficiency it’s ever been with the fewest resources could possibly mean that the animals are also treated/slaughtered the most humanely. It can easily be argued that killing unique beings created by god, who love and desire to live, could not possibly EVER be humane.

        • Because if they’re mistreated and die as a result, there is little to no profit to be made from them. If they’re mistreated and less healthy or are underweight as a result, the meat won’t be as good and the profit will be less per cow. Even the health of their skin matters to a degree, if it’s going to be turned into quality leather. And, even for us as human beings, where do the effects of stress typically show up in us? Our skin, hair; our immune system; heart problems that lead to early death; poor muscle tone, weight issues, etc.

          Just as with us, I’d assume that the less stressed out they are, the better their health will be; both in terms of overall on any given day, and in their ability to fight off disease during their lives {healthier immune system}. The better the health, the better the chance that they’ll live long enough to make it to market, and that they’ll be at a good weight, that the meat will be good rather than tough and stringy, and the hide will have fewer blemishes, etc {or I’d assume also the better a milker they’ll be if we’re talking dairy, but you seemed to be asking about beef}. The better the health of each cow, the more profit can be made from each one – which means that by improving quality on an individual {per-cow} basis, less quantity is needed overall to make the same amount of profit.

          So it is in their best interests to profit more per animal. 80 cows eat less, need less veterinary care, and take less people to look after than 120 cows would for example – so if you can improve quality such that you can make the same profit with fewer animals {because the individual quality of each one is better, and you’re losing fewer before market day}, that’s where and why it would matter. {Disclaimer, I’m not in ag myself – it just seems like common sense to me…}

  11. […] have responded to the most recent “animal abuse” video targeting the dairy industry.  Her site is wonderful and worth subscribing […]

  12. annie says:

    you are only as good as your HELP. I will never hire a mexican. I have raised cattle and chickens, I have watched them abuse any animal in their path. that is how they grew up. So needless to say I know plenty of ranchers and farmers who take proper care of their animals as long as they are involved. once they turn their back, this is the stuff that really happens.

    • Ryan Goodman says:

      Annie you have good point that sometimes we can only be as strong as our weakest link, but don’t you think that is a statement painted with a very broad brush? Replace the word Mexican with Farmer/Rancher and that’s the same thing you (and others in the agriculture community) get mad about. My family has had several families from Mexico come work on our ranch through the years and they have been extremely hard workers, earning honest pay. They have been good cattle handlers and mechanics around the ranch and barn.

      • Kiz says:

        Well said. Annie’s comment about not hiring Mexicans shows an unfair bias. We have had very compassionate and hard workers on our cattle ranch thru the years as well. What ever you do I life, just do the best you can, and if it is not a good fit, move on to something that does work for you. Put the right people in place, it does not matter where they come from.

    • Stephanie Lamoreux says:

      Hi Annie, I am sorry that you have had a bad experience with witnessing animals not being treated with care. Also am trying to understand your response. Correct me if I’m wrong; I think or maybe hope you were meaning that Mexicans shouldn’t be hired because as a culture, they have differing views on how animals should be treated? I think when anyone, myself included makes a generalization about someone; whether it be Dairy Farmers, Mexicans, people who are overweight, too skinny, from the city, etc. We are continuing to be part of the problem. There is a lot of Irony in the fact that you made a rash generalization about a certain; race just as people are making rash generalizations and judgements against all Dairy Farmers. I am not Hispanic, so that is not the reason for my response. I personally know many farmers who’s right-hand-men are Hispanic. Have a neighbor; who is white, who treats his cattle poorly and has been reported and dealt with. I would hope that just because he’s a white male, people wouldn’t think my husband treats our cattle poorly. Just food for thought. I hope you have better luck in the future with employees and wish you the best.

    • dairycarrie says:

      Annie, your comment is racist and not OK. You are skating on thin ice here. Kind of hard to believe that someone who can paint and entire group of people with such a large brush isn’t doing the same when they talk about what happens when farmers “turn their back”.

  13. Jocosa says:

    Well Said 🙂

  14. What a great read Carrie. You do such a great job at telling other stories that often relate directly to the event. Ashley lives in the same area, and is immediately effected by the video. This may make it easier for others to realize that farmers are NOT okay with animal abuse. The actions of a few people should not reflect poorly on an entire farming community. We all love our animals regardless of what we raise, and we do the best we can.

  15. Marion Venema says:

    I work on a very large dairy farm and I am in charge of the health and well being of the calves (around 550 calves at all times). On our farm the calves (and cows) are treated with patience and intelligence and that means that we ALL know better than to abuse any of the animals. The cows and calves are the livelihood of everyone working on the farm (and there’s a lot of us!) and the owners of the farm.

    First of all I think this blog is great and Ashley: thanks for describing the situation so incredibly well. It is a mystery to me how people can allow employees to abuse animals and I hope the owners of this particular dairy somehow did not know (and I assume that’s the case) and that they will take the right steps to prevent abuse like this from happening again.

    Then I scrolled to the comments and now I am stunned and VERY mad about ‘Annie’s comment, because THAT is ridiculous!!! I am in charge of a crew of great Mexican and Guatamalan guys, who do a wonderful job taking care of the calves. Every single calf is treated well and with patience (needed!!! It isn’t easy to teach a day old calf to drink from a bucket). It’s not the nationality of the guys/girls working for you, it is lack of leadership and often also lack of respect for the employees that makes this kind of stuff happen. Before I came to this farm, the guys were just told what to do and, since everyone assumed they were ‘stupid’ due to the fact that most of them did not have the opportunity to get a good education, nobody ever bothered to explain the ‘why’ of things. They didn’t get any respect and slowly they stopped caring. Now, everyone knows the why of everything we do. Why we take so much time giving those calves the first feeding(s) and starting them right, why we use clean gloves for every calf, why we are on top of preventive care, why we need to be on top of clean dry bedding. They are not ‘stupid’, they just didn’t get to go to school. My crew now understands (really understands) more about calf care and calf health than the American top guy at the dairy. What’s more: we are a team and we start our day EVERY day with a series of loud ‘Buenos Dias’es, We laugh, we smile, we talk calves and we sure are proud of the fact that death loss went down from over 16 % to below 2.5 % (and hopefully counting). Don’t ever say anything bad about Mexican (or other latino) crews: they are as good as their leader is! Respect for employees creates respect from employees for their employer AND for the animals they are taking care of.

    Marion

    • maria says:

      Would you address the stress and depression on dairies cows when their babies are ripped away at birth time after time? How could this industry that requires emotionally torturing these poor animals really justify these actions? I don’t work on a farm, but I grew up with horses and I know that mothers bond with their young. If farm people say they love their animals, I have to think that they believe that the animals also love them. And if animals are capable of love, the most basic of love is that of your own off-spring. I am really interested in learning about this aspect of the dairy industry (one of the main reasons I stopped consuming dairy). Thanks.

      • dairycarrie says:

        This weekend I had a heifer calve and leave her baby for dead in below zero temperatures. Is that what you’re referring to?

        Dairy cows are not the most maternal beings. I’ve seen them step on their own babies and hurt them. Most just want to go eat after the calve.

  16. Madeline says:

    Ah but as a person going into these dairies, many are not monitored. You say the cameras work in the parlor but in fact are cover with fly drops, manure, dirt, and whatever the milker might want to hide. So the question remains how lazy has the dairy owner become. I know many dairies where I watched a guy pull a tail off or a cow get beat so badly she cannot get up ever again. I responsibly told the owner, but because one would like to ignore the situation so as not to have to work the same people were there the next time doing the same inhumane treatments as before. As a milker and in other jobs around the dairy and beef industry I have learned patients is a virtue and most generally cannot be taught. So there are the thoughts that dairy men and women need to be asking themselves am I present enough in my facility???

    • dairycarrie says:

      Madeline,
      I would hope that if you had seen something like you described that you would have not only told the owner of the dairy but reported the abuse to the authorities. Did you do that?

      I have been on many, many dairies and not only have I not seen what you describe, the larger dairies that have cameras are monitored and recorded.

    • dairy wife says:

      Madeline, as a human being, why would you stand idly by and allow a cow to get beaten? Why didn’t you step up and be an advocate for an animal in a way that would have really mattered? Your ASSumptions speak to the fact that perhaps you are not as familiar with the industry as you would have others believe

  17. […] Animal welfare is a subject on every farmers mind. No farmer wants to hear about animal welfare issues on their farm or any other farm for it tarnishes the agriculture industry as a whole. A great example of this occurred recently in an article produced in regards to an abuse video on calves at a dairy farm in Colorado. This article coming from other farmers shows the care and passion farmers have for their animals and that few incidences should not harm the agriculture reputation. To view this article please view : New calf abuse video rocks the dairy industry […]

    • Jared Dickman says:

      Our Dairy farm does not do any of these practices are cows go out to pasture and have the calf nurse on the for a few days. We wait 2-3 months to rebreed them and artificial insemination is not painful to the cows. Using artificial insemination is a way to keep dairy farmers and young children safe from the potential danger of using dairy bulls which can be highly agressive

      • Jared Dickman says:

        Our bull calves are healthy and taken care of we do not let them just die we give every one a fighting chance even if they have a low chance of dying not all dairy farmers are like this.

  18. Dairy Wife says:

    Please be aware that the video was made on a calf ranch that purchases bull calves from dairies all over the Western US and raises them. This abuse DID NOT take place on a dairy.

  19. Arrests have been made.

    “Sheriff’s Detectives are planning to speak with the person who filmed the abuses to determine if any additional suspects remain to be identified. All three suspects in the case were believed to have been hired through a temporary agency (which cannot be named at this time due to the ongoing investigation).”
    http://www.weldsheriff.com/assets/1638b8456ab951463a3b.pdf

  20. Last Monday, there were some people from the Vegan Outreach passing out pamphlets about the “evils” of factory farming on the Missouri State campus. The pamphlets were full of pictures of animals that had been abused and/or mistreated, and those guys were telling how animals were just the bottom line to farmers, and that farmers and ranchers didn’t care about their animals. It really made me sad to think that this is the message that’s being sent to all the people who don’t know any better. Things like that really help hit home the importance of being an advocate for agriculture.

    • Maybe these groups exist because that is reality… i’d like to see a successful debate between you or anyone from the animal agriculture sector and someone like Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary. Animal agriculture is going to come to an end because of the collapse of animal welfare, environmental well-being, and strong evidence that meat/dairy are cancer causing foods. More and more people are joining the movement against particularly factory farms, but also the vegan movement.

      • I am not denying that there is a problem with animal cruelty in some factory farming facilities, but what is true for a part is not always true for the whole. Like Dairy Carrie mentioned at the end of this post, people understand that the vast majority of parents don’t abuse their kids despite the abuse videos that are seen on the news, but they are quick to judge farmers as all the same when an animal abuse video comes to the news.

        Also, you mentioned someone from the agriculture sector and Gene Baur debating, but Gene Baur could also be considered to be from the agriculture sector. On his biography on farmsanctuary.org it says that he has a masters degree in agricultural economics. So he’s at least involved with the agriculture sector, and honestly I don’t think a debate would solve anything in the first place. For the problem to be solved, the agriculture sector, both plants and animals, needs to stop fighting each other and work together. That would probably get a whole lot more accomplished than a debate between the two sides.

        Lastly, could you leave a link to the “strong evidence” that meat/dairy are cancer-causing foods? I had never heard that before, and, since I am from the Show-Me State, I would like to see the evidence for myself.

      • Kitty Jones says:

        Meat and dairy in their natural, unprocessed forms never caused cancer for anyone, if that were the case America should be the nation with the absolute lowest statistics for cancer, however that is not the case, and places that use whole milk and unprocessed animal fats and proteins have far less cases of cancer than the US. Therefore one has to wonder if it’s not the meats and dairy, but rather the processing the food goes through that causes the cancer. Also, there is evidence that a lack of animal fats and proteins in young children puts them at a greater risk of disabilities such as epilepsy.

  21. cnc809 says:

    I think this is a great point you are making about abuse. Sadly, it is everywhere, but people need to be made aware of the fact that it is wrong and we do not support it. We don’t want all farmers to be depicted as abusive to animals because that’s not the case.

  22. I am glad you shared this. We need more farmers to speak out and tell their stories about agriculture. There is too many negative things being shown, because they do not want to show all the good things that really do come from agriculture. We do not want to see our livestock suffer any more than anyone else wants too. If we did we would not be so passionate and heavy hearted when we hear stories like this. It simply breaks my heart that people do not want to see all the good that agriculture has to offer and the truth about who feed them. All the bad stories trump the good ones because it place with a strong emotional part of a human. I think with more and more true and real farmers telling their stories we can start combating all the nonsense that is being put out there for the world to see.

    As a side note, it was great listening to you in class last Wednesday! Hope all is well up North!
    backroadcountrygirl.wordpress.com

  23. It is sad that one operation can cause a bad rap for everyone else. Also, who was standing by and watching them roughly handle these calves? This is very frustrating and not okay, Maybe if we just overflowed the internet with videos on how great the dairy cow life can really be then these abuse videos would seem so silly. Additionally, I loved that Ashley touched on the subject that she is raising her kids to treat animals the way they should be treated.

  24. Thanks for posting this Carrie. So often on the television we see things we don’t wish to. People automatically “jump the gun” and don’t see the whole truth of the matter or situation at hand. Now yes the video may have been a little disturbing but it’s absolutely vital that the agricultural community educate the public on our practices and the fact that they are HUMANE and not as the video portrays! I hope that in the future we see less of these pop up, and for now we’ll have to continue public education with true facts and practices in a positive way. Thanks again!

  25. Eloka says:

    What happens to the “waste products” bobby cows on your farm? And those around you? Are they stolen from their mothers milk as soon as they are born and slaughtered “humanely” 5 days into their short lives?

  26. faith j. says:

    Uh…..ya no I dont think abusing animals is good. But is abusing your KIDS better?! Why dont you worry more about people, and stop getting farmers (people who give you food, milk, and cheese) in trouble with PETA. Oh and just so you know I am a part of PETA, too, People for Eating Tasty Animals!

  27. Helen Lowe says:

    I grew up on a farm and married a rancher. As a child nearly all of our cows were “pets” (one was extremely mean). On the ranch, some of them were pets and most were gentle..especially around the children. There were very few times we had to use “abusive” measures to control them. The children even rode the bulls as they would a horse and the bulls seemed to enjoy it as much as the children did. If an animal became aggressive we sometimes needed to step in and deliver a slap to the nose to straighten them out….but that was rare. To: International cowgirl..I agree, Jersey’s are some of the best..I also like the guernsey I had as a kid.

  28. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    “I often wonder why people understand that the vast majority of parents don’t abuse their kids despite the horrible stories of abuse on the news, but they are so quick to judge farmers as all the same when a rare video comes to the news.”

    Most people have children, or have friends and family with children. Very few of them own cows or know people who do, very few have been on a farm or even touched a cow.

  29. Rick smith says:

    I just finished a great steak with a large glass of milk with some cheese for an appetizer and butter on my baked potato. Keep up the great work all farmers, dairy people and ranchers.
    I love you and always have.

  30. Caitlin A-C says:

    While you are surrounded by family farms and a close-knit community, it is wrong to think this is an isolated incident. Every single day this happens and MUCH worse, because as many of the comments state, these animals are viewed as commodities. So yes, it makes sense to keep them healthy and ‘happy’ enough to continue producing, but they are not thought of as individual, sentient beings the majority of the time on farms. Your experience as a small dairy might be different, but that does not mean these abuses are rare at all. There are literally thousands of undercover videos showing footage such as this. Which brings me to the part of the response which condemns the person filming the video for not turning it in right away. But you see, the point of these videos is to provide substantial evidence that these atrocities occur systematically, across the board. If you turn in one video showing abuse, you are fired (and in some places sued for videoing in the work place). The individual employee that performed the abuse may be fired for the sake of good publicity, but the overall abuse does not end there. It occurs with new employees, the next month or week or year, because we do not view these beings as worthy of proper treatment. These videos are filmed to reveal the huge need for better auditing and reform of the entire farming system. While the groups that arrange the undercover investigators push for veganism, these videos still have improved only animal welfare for decades. They do not end farms. Improving welfare cannot be achieved by turning in one isolated incident of animal abuse. It is a risky, dangerous, personal sacrifice for the people who film these to do so. They see awful things. They do this to expose wrong doing. To ask them to turn it in right away ruins the entire purpose of the footage.

    At the end of the day, no matter how much you care for your cows, you are still using them as commodities. It might be hard to recognize because it is culturally conditioned in us as normalized, but tearing babies from their mothers so we can drink the ‘breast’ milk that was crafted solely for them is an abomination to maternity and nature. I do not mean to offend you personally, as it seems you are a caring soul that thinks you are doing the best for these animals. But at the end of the day, we are stealing that which is not ours to take. We are raising living, breathing, sentient beings to trust us, only to send them to their gruesome deaths when they stop producing what we ‘need’ (although need is absolutely not true. cow milk is not made for us, the same that cat milk, giraffe milk, dog milk, elephant milk, is not made for us). We send baby calfs to their deaths if they are born male. We rip apart families, and just because they are not human does not mean there are not bonds of family.

    To society, is it normal. But it is not compassionate.

    Respect to you for writing/sharing an intelligent response. I just hope those that see my comment might reflect on my words and ask themselves if any of this is necessary in the first place.

  31. Chad & Dorothy says:

    Good article. One thing you didn’t say and I wish it was added is that cows/animals don’t understand English. You can’t explain to them that they need to get up, or eat this or take this medicine and they will get better. An animal starts feeling bad they just give up and choose to die. You have to forcefully make them or they die. That is what somebody who cares does. Tough love. I want to see them get better so they can live another happy day.

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