Recent undercover investigations conducted by animal welfare organizations at Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Texas dairies have revealed horrendous conditions for cows on these farms. The investigations reveal extreme abuse, inhumane handling, routine neglect of calves, painful mutilations without anesthesia, and unsanitary housing conditions. Kicking, shoving, stabbing, and hitting cows was rampant. Immobile cows and calves were moved using heavy machinery and by dragging them by their heads. Several of the facilities also failed to keep the animals’ housing clean and sanitary, with the cows at one mired in feces within cramped, soggy, quarters. Even more disturbing were the repeated images of neglected calves lying in tiny, barren outdoor pens, some with frozen feet or covered in feces.
The practices observed on these farms inflict immense suffering and fall well short of even the minimal industry standards for the care of dairy cows and calves. AWI recently submitted recommendations to the National Milk Producers Federation asking for revisions to its animal care standards so that instances like those observed at these farms could be prevented. Unfortunately, the dairy industry operates with little state or federal regulation, and inhumane practices are likely to continue unless outside intervention occurs.