After bringing to light two shocking undercover reports of cruelty at pig farms in the UK this summer, we are saddened to report the findings of yet another horrifying investigation into animal abuse – this time at an organic dairy farm in Somerset
The investigation, led by Animal Equality UK, took place after a tip-off about cruel handling practices at Soil Association-certified Coombe Farm, which supplies Waitrose. Footage reveals tiny calves being stamped on, force-fed, and denied access to water for up to 29 hours on some of the hottest days of the year.
The upsetting videos obtained by Animal Equality UK on several visits to the farm also show calves thrown to the ground and slapped in the face during force-feeding, and one dragged by its back legs into a separation pen – defying RSPCA guidelines that animals must not be pulled or lifted by their limbs, ears or tails.
Another worker stands on a calf with his full body weight while violently swearing at the animal. Heartbroken cows can be seen visibly agitated and trying to intervene as their struggling calves call out in distress, while in other scenes several cows have their back legs chained together in shackles – something advised against by DEFRA.
In another scene, a farm worker pulls away a calf suckling from its mother and forces a tube down its throat – presumably to stop it drinking its mother’s milk so it can instead be used for human consumption.
Coombe Farm is also RSPCA Assured, and claims on its website that: “For dairy herds, organic farming means [the cows] are given the best levels of animal welfare and graze naturally, in meadows grown without the use of artificial chemicals.”
However, the footage reveals a far from happy picture for the cows and their babies. As is common in the dairy industry, the investigation also found calves routinely separated from their mothers less than 24 hours after birth.
Animal Equality’s UK Director, Dr Toni Shephard, said:
“Consumers will be shocked to see such cruel treatment of tiny newborn calves, with their heartbroken mothers forced to look on helplessly. That these harrowing scenes are from the much romanticised organic farm producing dairy products for Waitrose will seem almost beyond belief.”
“Yet separating mother cows and their babies is an inherent part of dairy farming. The strong maternal bond is broken so that her breast milk can be bottled and sold – to us. Luckily delicious, cruelty-free plant-based milks are now widely available, so concerned consumers can easily ditch dairy.”
According to the Mirror newspaper, the RSPCA says it has suspended Coombe Farm from the Assured scheme after an investigation, and the Soil Association called the treatment of animals at the farm “unacceptable.”
If we want to see an end to the cruel practice of dairy farming we must utilise our purchase power and stop buying dairy-based products.
To find out how to go vegan and give up dairy for good, sign up for Veganuary’s Vegan Starter Kit.