1 Dec 2015

Dairy farmers 'tarred with the same brush'

3:46 pm on 1 December 2015

A Waikato dairy farmer disgusted by the animal abuse in SAFE's video footage is angry the entire industry is being questioned over the incident.

Jersey calves

Photo: 123RF

The animal welfare group captured video footage from 12 Waikato dairy farms and a slaughterhouse, showing bobby calves being held in roadside crates, thrown onto trucks and, in one case, being kicked and bashed before their throats were slit.

Matamata-Piako farmer Matthew - who did not want his last name to be used - milks 200 cows on 63 hectares, and said the majority of dairy farmers found the footage abhorrent.

"The treatment of the bobby calves going from the transport to the slaughterhouses is not condoned by the dairy farmers.

"I myself and my colleagues have complained to transport companies in the past about the way the calves are handled going onto bobby trucks."

People had been looking at dairy farmers in a funny way since the footage was made public, he said.

"You're being tarred with the same brush, as with the transport companies and with the people in the slaughterhouses. They're thinking you've abused your animals in the same way when it's not true at all. It has been a very difficult 48 hours for dairy farmers."

Matthew said bobby calves were kept for four to five days before they were picked up by a transport company and sent to the works.

The calves needed to be in a crate ready to be picked up inside the farm gate but the abuse seen in the video was not common practice, he said.

"I've actually had letters from two processors over the last 24 hours in my email stating it wasn't their company involved and they have a strict monitoring process in place within their own slaughterhouses.

"You know, there are many slaughterhouses out there that are doing what is required by the law to make it as humane as possible.

"If you want to have milk, mozzarella cheese, you want Lewis Road Creamery chocolate milk and yoghurt, this is the part of dairying that you have to realise that happens," he said.

Transport company Waitoa Haulage, which had one of its employees filmed throwing calves into a truck, said the behaviour was not company policy and the casual employee was dismissed part-way through the bobby season.

It also said it did not supply animals to the Down Cow slaughterhouse plant in Te Kauwhata, which was among the sites pictured in the video.

Down Cow said the man at its plant in the video was no longer employed.

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