Dairy-free

Surge responds to Dairy Farmers’ complaints as second shocking undercover video is released

New undercover video shows further cow abuse on dairy farm

Dairy Farmers have responded vociferously to the Dismantle Dairy campaign by Surge. The initial undercover video has now received over one million views on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook combined in just under a week. The narrator, and co-director of Surge, Earthling Ed has now responded to the various complaints by dairy farmers of the footage which was shot undercover at UK farms over eighteen months.

The response comes as the campaign has just released its second video showing systematic abuse of cows at the Wigboro Wick Farm at St Osyth near Clacton in Essex.

This video was shot over a six week period during 2019. It shows dead calves being left to rot in the open. In addition, there are numerous shots of the farmworkers punching, kicking and tail twisting the cows whom they frequently swear at as they attempt to move them along for another milking session.

Sexual abuse of cows

Perhaps the most shocking parts are scenes of a worker appearing to sexually abuse the cows. A worker can be clearly seen touching the cow in an intimate area. There is further footage showing the worker doing the same thing to another cow on a different day.

The investigator has stated that “the worker appears to be moving his hand up and down in a way that would suggest masturbation.” It is difficult to express in words just how truly vile this sight is.

The investigators also found several dead calves being left to rot in the open.

In one scene a mother cow is seen with a placenta in her mouth, having just cleaned her newborn calf. She will according to the investigators “most likely” never see her newborn calf again.

In another scene, a calf is forcibly separated from her mother. It is obvious that she clearly does not want to go. This is so that humans may have the milk instead of the baby calf for whom nature clearly intended this milk. The mother is seen forlornly trying to follow her baby.

In a poignant scene, a farmer is carrying his child in one arm as he surveys a mother cow with her calf. “One of these babies will spend their childhood being nurtured by their family; the other will not be so fortunate” reads the caption.

Immediate action being taken including comprehensive retraining

As a result of the underground video, the farm has stated that it has taken “immediate action” as reported by the Chelmsford & Mid Essex Times. In a statement to the local paper, the farm said: “The welfare of our dairy herd is our number one priority.

“We aim to uphold the highest standards of animal welfare and care and insist on the same high standards from everyone who works with us.

“We have taken immediate action in relation to the incidents shown (including disciplinary action) and have implemented a comprehensive re-training programme in our determination to ensure that any shortcomings in our systems and practices are addressed.

“Trespassers entered our farm unlawfully and secretly filmed many hours of footage over a number of months.

“We regard this as a gross breach of privacy – of family members, children and staff members – and absolutely condemn it.”

Surge has maintained that its investigators did not knowingly engage in any illegal activity. It denies any breaking and entering, theft or criminal damage.

The deputy director of the National Farmers Union, Guy Smith, has been identified as a director and shareholder of the farm, Smith Farms (Clacton) Ltd. He has made it quite clear that he has no input in the running of the dairy farm.

Activist’s response to dairy farmers’ critique

Ed Winters, commonly known as Earthling Ed, has responded to the general rebuttals that the Dismantle Dairy campaign has received from dairy farmers.

Many have claimed that the video is “so disrespectful” to dairy farmers. Not all farmers are like that, they say. Winters replies that this is “bewildering” to claim that not all farms are like this. He states that the problems are not isolated to a few farms, but rather they represent systematic abuse. 

The whole point of the campaign he says is to highlight was is accepted as standard legal practice. That is to say:

  • separating calves from their mothers at birth and placing them into solitary hatches;
  • killing male calves by shooting them;
  • sending mother cows to slaughterhouses where they are hung upside down and have their throats cut; and
  • restraining a dairy cow and forcibly impregnating her.

These practices are lawful and happen everywhere. In his opinion, they represent the reality of dairy farming and to claim otherwise is simply misleading. 

The animal welfare activist urges viewers to ask themselves to consider the consequences of these matters being “standard practice”. 

He challenges any farmer who is a party to these legal standard practices to own up and admit to them. 

He believes that the dairy industry is “scared” of the truth of this reality becoming more widely known. 

He urges non-vegans who are confused and think that this cannot possibly be what it is like to do more research. 

Winters states that another common response is simple abuse and insults directed at the activists. He thinks that this angry response is the psychological response of people who feel unable to defend themselves. 

Another common response from dairy farmers is that the videos should “look at the positives, not just the negatives”. Earthling Ed cannot find any positives other than the farmers earning an income. This, in his opinion, cannot trump the lives and wellbeing of animals. He, therefore, urges those farmers to sustain a livelihood without exploiting animals 

The final category of common responses from dairy farmers is that this is simply the way things are and have been for decades. Thus the farmers are being unfairly victimised.

Earthling Ed views many of these responses to be contradictory. Perhaps, just maybe the vegans might just be right, he says

This second undercover video is exactly the type of publicity that the dairy industry could do without. In the age of citizen journalism, it is getting increasingly difficult to keep these kinds of behaviour behind closed doors.

Surge is committed to revealing to the public what it describes as “the horrors behind the dash of milk in a cup of coffee”. It promises that it has more revelations to come.

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Nicholas Orosz

Nicholas is a former City solicitor and Cambridge graduate. He has a long-standing interest in health & nutrition, the environmental movement, green politics & digital publishing. He has always loved crafting words. His transition to a vegan perspective has been gradual and an ongoing process of self-discovery. Contact: nicholas@vegansbethechange.com
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