Controversial footage of cows and their calves being mistreated at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana has recently gone viral. The footage depicts farm employees aggressively handling and, in some instances, beating calves and cows.
Understandably, a lot of people are concerned.
Although it was difficult to watch the footage, I did so to ensure I had full knowledge of the situation before addressing it.
The behaviour of these specific employees on Fair Oaks Farms in the video is unnecessary and brutish. There’s no denying that.
But, after reading some peoples comments towards the footage and their views towards the scenario, I think it’s important to address that fact that handling animals requires strength and, when necessary, acceptable force. Many livestock species are significantly larger and stronger than the average human, and they have the ability to cause serious injury when handling them. It is extremely important to establish that you, the human, are in control when handling an animal.
Is throwing calves into trailers and kicking and punching them the proper way to handle them? Absolutely not. But, seeing my boyfriend handle his own calves on his farm, and the strength and power they exert from such a young age, demonstrates the need to handle animals with required dominance, regardless of their age.
Further, many of the people commenting on the situation are concerned over the calves being separated from their mothers. This is not a new practice in the dairy industry, and this is not exclusively happening at this particular farm. Dairy calves are separated from their mothers to harvest the mother’s milk for human consumption, and also to protect them from potentially being injured by their mother, which happens more often than one may realize. And, “the quick removal (of the calf) reduces the weaning anxiety at a later age and speeds up the calf’s independent eating,” says Alberta Dairy’s website.
The video, released by the Animal Recovery Mission, consists of a male speaking about the abuse seen in the footage. At one point, he encourages viewers to stop consuming dairy, and also states that the dairy industry and how it is portrayed to the public is a lie. In actuality, this man’s statements are what are lies, and as I have said many times before, it is so important to refrain from assuming this is how all dairy farms operate.
The actions of a handful of employees at this farm are horrific. But, their actions do not make the dairy industry as a whole horrific, nor dairy products. Being ignorant towards false ideas of animal abuse is a dangerous thing, and it’s time to start educating each other.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://visualhunt.co/a2/dc865e”>haglundc</a> on <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/re4/fbdc4838″>Visualhunt</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”> CC BY-NC</a>