Stealing Milk From Babies

The dairy industry is inherently cruel. Cows, like all mammals, must be pregnant or nursing in order to produce milk. So, the dairy industry keeps these animals in a constant cycle of pregnancy and lactation. Selective breeding and artificial hormones are often used to force cows to produce up to 10 times as much milk as they would naturally.

After only a few years, a dairy cow’s body is so worn out from repeated pregnancies and unnaturally high milk production that she is considered “spent” and is sold for slaughter. Most dairy cows end up being killed for hamburger meat.

Because cows are kept in a constant cycle of pregnancy, a lot of baby calves are born into the dairy industry. These animals are ripped away from their mothers almost immediately after they are born and are typically fed an artificial milk replacer so that all of their mothers’ milk can be sold for profit.

Female calves are either slaughtered for beef or grown out and used as replacements for the “spent” cows in the dairy herd. Since males will never produce milk, they are usually sold for veal. These calves are crammed into tiny wooden boxes, often chained by the neck, unable to even turn around or lie down comfortably for months until they are killed.

From Bad to Worse

In addition to the cruelties inherent in dairy production, undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals at dairy factory farms across the country has exposed widespread and sadistic acts of animal abuse. Many of these investigations, which were conducted at random, have led to criminal charges and convictions of workers, managers, or owners who were caught on video maliciously beating, kicking, and dragging animals.


Cactus AcresColorado, 2015

Using a hidden camera, a Mercy For Animals investigator working at Cactus Acres—a member of the Dairy Farmers of America—documented rampant cruelty to animals, including:

  • Workers violently punching and kicking cows in their faces and bodies
  • Animals with open wounds and infections denied proper veterinary care
  • Cows stabbed with screwdrivers and viciously hit with milking equipment
  • Workers pulling cows’ tails for several minutes at a time to “punish” them

Watch the hidden-camera footage here:


Andrus DairyWisconsin, 2014

At this dairy supplier to Great Lakes Cheese—one of the largest cheese producers in the country—a Mercy For Animals investigator documented:

  • Workers viciously kicking and punching cows in their faces and bodies, beating them with rakes, and stabbing animals with sharp objects
  • A “downed” cow being kicked and beaten, having water forcefully sprayed in her face and nostrils, and being dragged by a rope around her neck
  • Workers using pruning shears to cut through the sensitive skin, nerves, and tailbones of cows without any painkillers
  • Sick or injured cows suffering from open wounds, infections, and serious injuries left to suffer without proper veterinary care

Watch the hidden-camera footage here:


Winchester DairyNew Mexico, 2014

At the time of this investigation, Winchester Dairy was a dairy supplier to Leprino Foods—the world’s largest mozzarella cheese producer. Leprino Foods is a primary cheese supplier to Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s restaurants nationwide. The hidden-camera video footage shows:

  • Workers viciously kicking and punching cows, and stabbing them with screwdrivers, causing bloody wounds and injuries
  • Cows being violently whipped in their faces and bodies with chains and metal wires
  • Workers maliciously shocking sick and injured cows and dragging them with tractors
  • Sick or injured cows suffering from open wounds, infections, and injuries left to suffer without proper veterinary care

Watch the hidden-camera footage here:

Following this investigation, Winchester Dairy shut down and Leprino Foods dropped it as a supplier. Law enforcement is currently investigating based on the video footage showing clear-cut violations of the state’s anti-cruelty laws.


Wiese Brothers FarmsWisconsin, 2013

A Mercy For Animals undercover investigator exposed sadistic animal abuse while working at Wiese Brothers Farms—a former dairy supplier to Nestlé. The hidden-camera video shows:

  • Workers viciously kicking, beating, and violently whipping cows in the face and body
  • Sick or injured cows suffering from open wounds, infections, and injuries left to suffer without proper veterinary care
  • Workers dragging cows by their fragile legs and necks using chains attached to a tractor
  • Filthy conditions, including feces-covered floors that caused cows to regularly slip, fall, and injure themselves
  • Baby calves being dragged away from their mothers immediately after birth and having their tails docked without any painkillers

Watch the hidden-camera footage here:

After this investigation broke, four workers were charged and convicted of criminal cruelty to animals and Nestlé dropped the facility as a supplier. Additionally, as a result of this investigation, Nestlé announced what may be the most comprehensive and far-reaching animal welfare policy of its kind.


Bettencourt DairiesIdaho, 2012

Bettencourt Dairies is the largest dairy factory farm in Idaho—one of the leading dairy-producing states. At this massive facility, a Mercy For Animals investigator documented:

  • Workers and management viciously beating, kicking, punching, and shocking cows and violently twisting their tails in order to deliberately inflict pain
  • Workers and management dragging a downed cow by her neck using a chain attached to a tractor
  • Extremely unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including feces-covered floors that caused cows to regularly slip, fall, and injure themselves
  • Sick or injured cows suffering from open wounds, broken bones, and infected udders left to suffer without proper veterinary care

Watch the hidden-camera footage here:

Following the release of this investigation, Kraft Foods—the largest food company in the United States—announced a new policy requiring all of its dairy suppliers to phase out the cruel practice of tail docking cattle, among other important animal welfare policies. Additionally, several workers were convicted of criminal animal cruelty.


E6 Cattle CompanyTexas, 2011

An MFA investigator documented sickening animal abuse at E6 Cattle Company—a massive calf ranch in Texas that houses up to 10,000 baby calves at a time for the dairy industry. The video footage shows:

  • Workers bludgeoning calves in their skulls with pickaxes and hammers—often involving five to six blows, sometimes more, before rendering the animals unconscious
  • Beaten calves, still alive and conscious, thrown onto dead piles
  • Workers kicking downed calves in the head, and standing on their necks and ribs
  • Calves confined to squalid hutches, thick with manure and urine buildup, and barely large enough for the calves to turn around or fully extend their legs
  • Gruesome injuries and afflictions, including open sores, swollen joints, and severed hooves
  • Ill, injured, and dying calves denied medical care
  • The budding horns of calves burned out of their skulls without painkillers

Watch the hidden-camera footage here:

This investigation sparked national outrage, caused the live-cattle stock price to drop, and prompted countless consumers to consider the plight of calves born into the dairy industry for the first time. The investigation also led to felony and misdemeanor criminal charges against the owner, his foreman, and several employees for animal abuse.


Conklin DairyOhio, 2010

Conklin Dairy was the site of some of the most sickening animal abuse ever documented by a Mercy For Animals investigator. Hidden-camera video footage shows workers:

  • Violently punching young calves in the face, body slamming them to the ground, and pulling and throwing them by their ears
  • Routinely using pitchforks to stab cows in the face, legs, and stomach
  • Kicking "downed" cows (those too injured to stand) in the face and neck—abuse carried out and encouraged by the farm's owner
  • Maliciously beating restrained cows in the face with crowbars, some attacks involving over 40 blows to the head
  • Twisting cows' tails until the bones snap
  • Punching cows' udders
  • Bragging about stabbing, dragging, shooting, breaking bones, and beating cows and calves to death

Watch the hidden-camera footage here:

The worker involved in the most sadistic abuse was arrested and convicted on six counts of cruelty to animals. Additionally, this investigation has been credited with pushing the Ohio Farm Bureau to implement the most comprehensive set of animal welfare reforms ever enacted by a single state at one time, including a ban on veal crates and gestation crates, a moratorium on new battery-cage egg facilities, and other important measures.


Willet DairyNew York, 2009

A Mercy For Animals investigation pulled back the curtains on Willet Dairy, the largest dairy factory farm in New York State and a former supplier to Leprino Foods. Leprino Foods is the largest pizza cheese producer in the world. Evidence gathered during the investigation reveals:

  • Cows with bloody open wounds, prolapsed uteruses, pus-filled infections, and swollen joints, apparently left to suffer without veterinary care
  • “Downed” cows—those too sick or injured to even stand—left to suffer for weeks before dying or being killed
  • Workers hitting, kicking, punching, and electric shocking cows and calves
  • Calves having their horns burned off without painkillers as a worker shoves his fingers into the calves' eyes to restrain them
  • Calves having their tails cut off—a painful practice opposed by the American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Newborn calves forcibly dragged away from their mothers by their legs, causing emotional distress to both mother and calf
  • Cows living in overcrowded sheds on manure-coated concrete flooring
  • Workers injecting cows with a controversial bovine growth hormone used to increase milk production

Watch the hidden-camera footage here:

The investigation led to the arrest and conviction of a longtime worker and supervisor and to the termination of the farm’s supplier relationship with Leprino Foods. Following the investigation, Willet Dairy announced it was ending the cruel and unnecessary practice of tail docking cattle.


Dairy’s Dark Side

Treated as mere milk-producing machines, cows exploited and killed for milk and cheese endure lives of near constant misery and deprivation.

In order to keep producing a steady supply of milk, the cows are repeatedly impregnated. Several times a day, dairy cows are hooked by their udders to electric milking machines that can cause them to suffer electrical shocks, painful lesions, and mastitis (an infection of the udders). Some spend their entire lives standing on concrete floors; others are crammed into massive mud lots.

Cows have a natural lifespan of nearly 25 years, but the stress caused by factory farm conditions leads to disease, lameness, and reproductive problems that render cows worthless to the dairy industry by the time they are four or five years old.

These highly intelligent and social animals suffer unimaginable abuse from the time they are born and ripped from their mothers' sides until they are so physically worn out from repeated pregnancies and constant milk production that they are sold for slaughter.

Although unconscionable cruelty and violence are standard practice in the dairy industry, caring consumers can help end the needless suffering of cows by choosing vegan alternatives to milk, cheese, and ice cream. Please visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.