In the space of just weeks, two major dairy investigations have been released which reveal horrific animal suffering on American dairy farms.
In fact, many more exposés have been published in this time, but I am going to focus on just these two for now for a very specific reason.
One of the farms has been held up as an example of transparency and welfare, the other is organic, which often carries positive welfare connotations for consumers. Despite this, investigators filmed animals being tortured at both facilities. Both investigations were carried out by Animal Recovery Mission (ARM).
'Disneyland of agriculture'
The first investigation released in early June was into Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana, which has been described as the 'Disneyland of agricultural tourism', and offers tours of its pastures, museum, restaurant, and hotel. It claims it provides 'complete transparency into the everyday operations of a dairy farm'.
According to ARM, its investigator witnessed abuse 'within hours' of starting their job, with video footage showing workers kicking, pushing, and slamming newborn calves to the ground because they did not nurse from the artificial rubber nipple - preferring to suckle on workers' fingers instead.
Calves, who were kept in small pens, were not given adequate nutrition or hydration, with some dying as a result. The video also shows employees hitting, stabbing, and calves with metal bars and branding irons, as well as sitting on them - which was often too much weight for the young calves to bear. Workers, managers, and foremen were observed joking as they sat on calves, and the animals' legs buckled under the weight.
Fair Oaks Farms Founder Mike McCloskey made a statement on the video footage describing it as 'a shock and an eye-opener'. He said an investigation of the video is underway 'during and after which disciplinary action will be taken, including termination and criminal prosecution'.
The second investigation, at Natural Prairie Dairies, captured video footage which appeared to show cows 'tormented, kicked, hit with shovels, and stabbed with screwdrivers by vet tech crews and animal caregivers'.
According to ARM, animals were inhumanly tied left in uncomfortable positions for hours, and cows were seen falling into cesspools almost drowning. Also, medical attention was not given to numerous animals, cows with infected eyes, infected udders, cuts, and scrapes, limping and too weak to walk were observed, untreated and in declining health.
Natural Prairie Dairies never responded to Plant Based News' request for comment - and did not appear to respond to other news organizations either.
Time to ditch dairy
These investigations - alongside many others - highlight just how much animals who are exploited for their milk suffer on dairy farms, even on facilities which boast of high welfare credentials. An ethical approach to help end this animal suffering is to ditch dairy.
Next month is a great time to try doing just that. August 22 marks World Plant Milk Day (WPMD), an initiative conceived by Robbie Lockie - vegan advocate, campaigner, and Co-founder of Plant Based News - and run in collaboration with international food awareness organization ProVeg.
Millions of people around the world are ditching dairy, and opting instead for healthy, delicious drinks made entirely from plants. There are so many reasons to do this - including saving the planet, improving your health, and helping stop the exploitation of cows in the dairy industry.
World Plant Milk Day makes it even easier to ditch dairy, with its 7-Day Dairy-Free Challenge. Just as it sounds, it is a week-long initiative which will help you get started on your exciting dairy-free journey.
If you sign up to take part, you'll receive daily emails, with all the information, support and recipes you need to succeed.
So why not join the millions of people worldwide who are opting for kinder, more sustainable, and delicious plant milk?