A PETA undercover investigation inside a Land O'Lakes supplier facility in Pennsylvania revealed routine neglect and cruelty to cows whose milk is used for the giant company's products. Over the course of several months, the investigation documented deplorable, filthy conditions for cows on the farm, such as pens that were filled with deep excrement (see video and photos), and cows who suffered from ailments and conditions so severe that they collapsed and became "downers" but were not put out of their misery or given veterinary care in a timely manner, if at all.
Land O'Lakes "inspected" the farm in June 2009—during the course of PETA's investigation—and even noted that there were areas in need of cleaning (including the milking parlor walls!) but approved the facility nonetheless.
Cows on dairy factory farms are not given much more than the numbered tag that is punched through their ears to identify them. Read more about what happened to a few of the cows who lived and died miserably at one such farm.
The farm's owner and one of his sons were caught on video electro-shocking cows who were in too much pain to stand up. One of the farmer's sons kicked a cow and jabbed her with the blade of a pocket knife. The dairy industry's standard forms of cruelty also led to suffering for these cows. In order to make milking easier, cows' tails were amputated by tightly binding them with elastic bands, causing the skin and tissue to slowly die and slough off and leaving the animals unable to swat away flies, which, in addition to tormenting the cows, also led to the spread of disease. Tail-docking is unnecessary and cruel, which is why it has been condemned by the American Veterinary Medical Association and banned in California.
Dairy farmers don't allow cows―whose pregnancies last for nine months, just like human pregnancies―to spend any significant time with their calves, who are taken away from their mothers shortly after birth. Cows are intelligent animals who can remember things for a long time, and they have the capacity to worry about the future.
PETA's investigation also reveals cows and calves who were kept in pens and barns whose floors were covered with deep excrement, which caused foot and hoof problems and fostered the spread of disease. Calves rescued from the farm had pneumonia, "manure scald," ringworm, pinkeye, and parasites. Some cows suffered respiratory distress and had pus-filled nasal discharge streaming down their faces. Abscesses were common on the farm—some of them burst and oozed pus, even as cows were being milked, as can be seen in our video.
World-renowned meat and dairy industry expert Dr. Temple Grandin, after reviewing the footage, said, "The conditions are absolutely atrocious. ... It was obvious that the place was seldom cleaned and ... that many sick animals were not receiving veterinary treatment. ... The dairy manager totally NEGLECTED his animals. ... Many animals suffer greatly."
Despite overwhelming video and photographic evidence of lame, thin cows left to suffer and die and a cow whose teat was banded and left to rot and fall off—as well as expert testimony that all this constituted cruelty—these suppliers, who abused and severely neglected the cows in their care, avoided a criminal conviction with misleading arguments and excuses, proving that current laws are not enough to protect cows on dairy factory farms. So now it's up to you to help these cows.
Demand that Land O'Lakes implement and enforce a 12-point animal welfare plan to govern all cooperative members' dairy-farming operations, which will eliminate some of the worst abuses to cows raised for their milk. Write to Land O'Lakes Senior Vice President Dan Knutsonnow and urge him to implement the plan today.
Of course, the best way for you to help prevent cows from suffering these abuses is to go vegan and stop consuming dairy products. Sign our pledge to be vegan for 30 days, and we'll send you all the resources that you need to get started.