Fair Oaks Dairy Investigation: Routine Abuse on U.S. Dairy Farm

If you saw the recent undercover investigation conducted at a major US dairy farm, you will never forget the sight of dairy calves being kicked, dragged, and violently thrown to the ground by several of the company’s workers…

Fair Oaks Dairy Farm
Image: Animal Recovery Mission video released 4 June 2019 highlighting abuse at the Fair Oaks Farm’s Dairy Farm Adventures in Fair Oaks, Indiana

Nor will you forget that while they were being tormented and abused, their desperate mothers were calling and calling to them until they became hoarse. Those who survived were put into calf hutches where the young, vulnerable animals struggled for breath as they succumbed to dehydration and malnutrition in temperatures that soared to 43C.

No wonder this investigation made headlines around the world.

Watch the Fair Oaks footage

(Please note, this footage is very distressing.)

This is not the first devastating dairy farm investigation, of course, and we know it won’t be the last, but there are two things that make the Fair Oaks investigation stand out. First, this farm is an affiliate of the Coca Cola company, and is the largest dairy company in Indiana. The second is that Fair Oaks is known as the ‘Disneyland of agricultural tourism’ and attracts 600,000 visitors a year to its farm, museum, restaurant and hotel. Both of these things make Fair Oaks Farm a well-known, high-profile business, but such accolades matter little now – they are not what this company will be remembered for.

In August 2018, an investigator from the Miami-based Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) got a job at Fair Oaks as a calf care employee, and for four months, he gathered evidence of the routine abuse that took place on the farm. At least five workers were implicated, four of them farm workers, and the fifth a third-party truck driver. Already, one man has been arrested and charged with torturing or mutilating vertebrate animals – a felony – and further arrests are expected.

But that is not the end of the story. Four days ago, ARM published the second part of its Fair Oaks investigation, this time from four months filming the rotary milking system. ARM writes:

‘The investigator witnessed employees punching, kicking, and stabbing cows, sometimes hitting their udders with the milking claws or shoving them with metal tubes and broomsticks. When cows in the milking line would not cooperate, frustrated employees would bend and break the cows’ tail bones as punishment. On a daily basis, cows with infected eyes, broken bleeding tails, infected udders and afterbirth placentas hanging out from their bodies were seen being forced on the rotary system.”

Watch the second Fair Oaks investigation

(Again, the footage is extremely upsetting.)

Millions of people have now seen or read about these investigations, and more than a dozen retailers have cut ties with the company. The shock waves will be felt for some time yet, and may end only when the next dairy farm is exposed for cruelty. One thing is certain: Fair Oaks is not an isolated case. Wherever there are dairy farms, there are cows and their calves suffering physically, psychologically and emotionally. Dairying is a ruthless business.

Veganuary is grateful to – and in awe of – the courageous investigators who put so much at risk in order to bring the truth behind dairy production to the world’s notice.

And for anyone wishing to boycott this cruel industry, switching to plant milks and dairy-free cheeses couldn’t be easier. It’s a simple swap that can make all the difference in the world.

To find out more about the dairy industry and where to find dairy-free alternatives to your favourite foods, visit our Vegan Starter Kit pages. And register to take the month-long vegan pledge to receive all the tips, info and recipes you need to move to a more compassionate diet.

 PAGE UPDATED JULY 2020

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