Cruelty Behind Cheese: Cattle Burned for Maker of Cabot

In late 2011 and early 2012, PETA conducted an undercover investigation at Adirondack Farms, LLC, a dairy factory farm that takes 20,930 gallons of milk—intended for their calves—from approximately 1,800 cows every day in Clinton County, New York. Adirondack Farms sends that milk to Massachusetts-based Agri-Mark, Inc., the self-proclaimed “largest supplier of farm fresh milk in New England.” Agri-Mark makes Cabot and McCadam cheeses and had $900 million in 2011 sales.

During the course of the investigation, PETA’s investigator found that workers routinely jabbed and struck cows with a pole and caneon the face, udder, and hindquarters—when leading them into a room to be milked. When PETA’s investigator brought these abuses to the attention of a farm manager, the manager admitted that the workers “get carried away with” striking cows.

This same manager—who failed to stop the abuse—was caught on video by PETA’s investigator electro-shocking a cow in the face repeatedly. A month after PETA notified Adirondack Farms’ owners of the behavior of this manager and others responsible for the abuse and neglect and asked that they take appropriate disciplinary action—including termination—the manager was still on the job! PETA released additional footage of him jabbing a fully conscious downed cow, whom he called a “dumb bitch,” in the ribs with a screwdriver and using a skid loader to drag her approximately 25 feet.

Some cows with bloody vaginal prolapses that became covered with pus and manure were left to suffer, untreated, for almost three months. A manager told PETA’s investigator that the farm did nothing for cows in this condition.

There was no shortage of animal suffering as a result of the dairy industry’s cruel standard procedures. With no pain relief whatsoever, calves’ horn buds were burned off so as to stop their horns from growing. PETA’s undercover footage shows one of the millions of young calves who undergo this mutilation every year in the U.S. as she thrashes about in agony, smoke rising from her seared flesh. Workers used “guillotine cutters” to “lop off” the horns of older animals—again without anesthetics or pain relief. PETA’s undercover investigator also recorded a manager as he put his arm deep inside a cow’s rectum to “rake” feces out before artificially inseminating her with a “gun,” another standard practice on dairy factory farms.

In order to make milking easier, calves’ tails were docked by tightly binding them with elastic bands. This causes the skin and tissue to rot and die, eventually sloughing off. Not having a tail deprives animals of the fundamental ability to swat away flies and causes them acute and chronic pain.

To increase milk production, workers injected cows every two weeks with bovine somatotropin (BST, a.k.a., bovine growth hormone, or BGH), which contributes to mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder  for which cows tested positive virtually daily at the farm. And as at every dairy farm, calves were torn away from their mothers—who are known for their maternal instincts and whose pregnancies last for nine months, just like human pregnancies—almost immediately after birth, causing both mother and calf extreme distress.

We need your help now to ensure that this cruelty is stopped at all Agri-Mark member farms!

Please send a quick e-mail to Agri-Mark CEO Dr. Richard Stammer, in care of the company’s communications director, Doug DiMento ([email protected]), and politely urge him to implement PETA’s recommendations immediately to help end the most egregious abuses of cows on cooperative members’ farms and to improve animal welfare. 

Please feel free to use our sample letter, but remember that using your own words is always more effective.

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