A video released by Surge and promoted by the animal activist Earthling Ed has received over 38,000 YouTube video views in its first 24 hours since publication. It is part of Surge’s Dismantle Dairy campaign and is the result of 18 months of secret filming on UK farms.
The graphic short film shows what takes place behind closed doors. It is at odds with the wholesome image of the dairy industry. The comments and responses are numerous. Typical of them are comments such as:
“Veganism is not extreme. This is.”
“Never drinking milk or eating cheese again. This is just not right, just for taste”.
Systematic abuse on the farms
The footage shows cows and calves being systematically abused. Newborn calves are shown being dragged, kicked and thrown as they are taken away from their mother. In one instance they are being thrown into a tractor loader while the mother is forced to watch helplessly.
The commentary describes how cows since they are mammals only produce milk for their babies. It describes how cows are “forcibly impregnated by a farmer or a vet, restraining the cow and forcing this arm inside the anus of the cow holding her cervix through the lining of the anus and then forcing a syringe through the cow’s vagina and injecting bull semen inside her cervix”.
It adds that the resulting separation of calf and mother leads to huge levels of suffering and distress. Left to their natural devices, cow and baby calf would normally form a close matriarchal and familial bond. In these settings, there is no place for maternal love to develop.
The video footage shows the solitary confinement pens into which female calves are placed. This confinement is legal for eight weeks.
It also shows how the cows are beaten, punched and at times abused when they show reluctance to go for milking three times a day. The abuse from the farmers is palpable and was “documented at every farm” that the undercover team visited.
Death could be “found everywhere”. The footage shows dairy calves left to rot on the ground, and mother cows sometimes being left to decompose after being shot.
The cows on the footage are clearly sensitive and as the commentary says, “easily scared”.
The commentary stresses that 90,000 male calves in the UK are shot or discarded after birth as they are not profitable enough for the industry. The remaining males are sold for beef or killed for veal.
Surge is a grass-roots non-profit animal rights organisation. It is the activities of Surge and like-minded organisations around the world that are shining a light on the secrecy of the industrial farm world. Consumers are entitled to understand what occurs in the supply chain of the food that they eat.
In Australia, there have been many instances of activists invading farms, which has caused huge controversy. One solution that an Australian Animal Justice Party MP proposed was mandatory CCTV cameras in factory farms.
It seems likely that if new agricultural standards were to require CCTV cameras to be installed on farms, then some of the systematic abuse seen on this undercover video would quickly fall away.
Alternatively, as the Surge video says another way to end the “systematic and ubiquitous” violence inherent in the dairy industry is to “leave dairy off your plate”.
UPDATE: 24th November: the video had over 121,000 views after 4 days.