Dairy – Corporate Cruelty
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Read the full investigation report
Viva! Campaigns has investigated a large dairy farm in Wales, recording some of the worst cases of physical violence we have ever seen. At the time of filming, the farm, Tafarn Y Bugail, supplied one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the UK, which has long-standing partnerships with major retailers and milk brands.
The abuse we found is heartbreaking.
Tafarn Y Bugail is a 500-cow dairy farm and the footage captured by Viva! Campaigns reveals shocking scenes of animal abuse. Our team of investigators filmed workers hitting, kicking and twisting the tails of cows during their investigation at Tafarn Y Bugail – none of which were isolated incidences.
Dead cows and calves were left outside to rot for days, a major breach of biosecurity regulations and Defra’s guidelines for the safe disposal of fallen livestock. One calf had been eaten by wild animals within sight of mother cows.
Farm workers were seen kicking cows on multiple occasions. One cow, who had given birth just moments before, received malicious kicks and stamps to her spine to force her to stand. A second cow was kicked in her already painfully swollen udder.
Footage was also captured that showed a worker mercilessly and repeatedly hitting a cow, over 55 times. The poor cow tried to escape but was forced to endure the brutal beating.
Far from the serene grassy fields that most envisage for dairy cows, investigators discovered at least 17 cows with their hind legs shackled together with chains. These contraptions are called hobbles and generally used when an animal has suffered nerve damage during birth, which can lead to them doing the splits. This high number of shackled cows is not surprising considering the sickening birth footage captured on camera.
In one particularly harrowing clip where we witnessed a cow giving birth, two workers and a child attached a rope to a steel gate to pull the calf out of her mother, bringing the cow to her knees in pain. The dual burden of nurturing an unborn baby and producing milk takes a damaging toll on a cow’s body. Seen as mere milking machines, daily cows are considered worthless at around four or five years when their milk production drops. At that point, they’re sent to a slaughterhouse, where their lives are prematurely ended.
The future of all dairy calves has already been decided.
If she is female, she will be placed in an isolation pen for the first eight weeks of her life and fed milk replacement formula instead of her mother’s milk. Investigators found newborn calves left alone, shivering in isolation pens in the middle of winter. If he is male, he will be destined to be slaughtered within a week of birth. Others are raised for cheap beef or veal and then killed.
The Metro reported on 19 November 2023:
First Milk, a dairy company which owns brands such as Pembrokeshire Cheddar, confirmed to Metro.co.uk that following Viva!’s findings it has cut off all ties with the farm.
A review by First Milk as well as a spot audit by Red Tractor have found ‘nothing to suggest a systemic issue at the farm’, spokespeople told Metro.co.uk.
Viva! founder and director Juliet Gellatley was among those who went undercover at Tafarn Y Bugail.
‘This farm is just the latest instalment of cruelty in the endless saga of pain that the dairy industry inflicts on cows,’ she said.
‘In one particularly harrowing clip, I watched a poor cow get beaten 55 times, causing unimaginable distress. Unable to escape, she had to stand and endure the beating inflicted upon her simply for existing.
‘The images of her suffering will live in my mind forever.’
Read the Metro exclusive
We’re here to tell you that this is categorically not the case.
Over the last twelve months Viva! Campaigns has investigated not only this farm that supplied one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the UK at the time of filming, but also other farms supplying Freshways, Arla and Müller. All these businesses put profit over the welfare of their cows, and fail to acknowledge that all dairy is cruel, exploitative and entirely unnecessary.
The True Costa Dairy – Freshways
Many of you may have already joined us on our previous Days of Action exposing the horrendous cruelty we exposed at Home Farm as part of our The True Costa Dairy campaign. We found cows that were emaciated, lame and struggling to walk, others manhandled, slapped and shoved, and yet more visibly injured or in shackles.
You can read more about what we discovered at Home Farm here.
Zero grazing – Müller and Arla
This past year, we also uncovered that two of the biggest dairy suppliers; Arla and Müller are zero grazing some of their herds, a system in which cows are locked indoors year-round; denying them the freedom to graze outdoors throughout their entire miserably short lives. Intensive zero grazing dairy farms can house thousands of animals. On what is thought to be the largest farm in the country of this type at present, there are an estimated 2,500 cows and rising.
We launched our Müller Killer campaign and went on a UK-wide YogHURTS tour to speak to the public about the cruelty of dairy.
You can read more about what we discovered at the four Müller and Arla farms investigated here.