Mercy For Animals Ohio Dairy Farm Video Outrages the Agricultural Industry

An undercover surveillance video was released this week by Mercy for Animals  that is maybe one of the most disturbing things I have ever witnessed in agriculture.  Shot over a thirty day period on the Conklin Dairy Farm in Ohio, the video shows the dairy’s hired man pitchforking the stomach of a calf, head stomping and extreme physical abuse.  One could take the opinion that this is just the case of one bad apple tainting the rest of us but…..I think we as an industry need to be proactive and begin to work harder to prevent these sort of actions ever taking place again.

I will admit that I have tried to watch the video on three occasions and still have not made it through the video.  The behavior showcased is not being “old school” or “show him who’s the boss,” this is sadistic.  I really don’t have any answers but we need to get this out of our industry.  I know many dairy farmers, ranchers and feedyard owners and I have never ever seen this kind of brutality or believe that this sort of animal care would be condoned by anyone.  The livestock producers of North America do care about the livestock that they keep and treat it with the most respect.  I plead you to not take this as common practice on the farms across this continent.  Animals are not our slaves as alleged by activists, but farmers across the continent treat our animals with care and respect.

If you are interested to see the Mercy for Animals Video, click here, but I must warn you this is extremely sadistic behavior and viewer discretion is advised.

Check out Troy Hadrick’s Opinion

Check out Michele Payn-Knoper’s Opinion

Check out Eliz Greene’s Opinion

As an industry we need to figure out how to rid ourselves of these sort of terrible behaviors and terrible situations.  Although not regular this is an embarrassment and outrage for our industry.  The man found in this tape has been taken into custody, and rightfully so.  In this case it was a farm employee who is caught on tape and the Conklin’s (farm owner) were not involved allegedly.  So how do we prevent this from happening?  Do we need to better educate our employees?  Is the answer more monitoring?  Is the answer training and certification for the people that work with livestock?    The trouble is that I don’t think that any level of training or coaching could of changed the behavior of this brutal individual.   As an industry we need to make sure that this type of behavior never happens again.

With saying all of this there is also criticism for Mercy for Animals and how they handled this situation.  My Twitter buddy Mike Haley a farmer in Ohio discusses this situation in  agreat and informative post entitled, “UnderCover Agendas.”  Mike does a great job of discussing the questions around, why did Mercy for Animals let this behavior happen for 30 days which allowed these animals to suffer longer.  Secondly, the accusations by Mercy for Animals and HSUS that this is common practice on farms across the US and consumers need to “ditch milk.”  Thirdly Mike discusses how this video was released screams an agenda that is really not about saving the animals in the video but really about pushing the anti-agriculture agenda of HSUS in Ohio.

Listen to an interview with Wayne Pacelle, HSUS by BuckEyeAg

Below is an interview compliments of AgWeb, with the Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  He responds to the Ohio Dairy Farm video
If you cannot the the below video, click here

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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13 Comments

Glenn

I grew up next door to a dairy farm and the dairy farmer used to drag the calves away from their mothers by one leg. That’s the way he did it right out in the open. That farmers treat their animals with care and respect is laughable. When is the last time you sent someone you care about and respect off to the slaughterhouse?

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Shaun Haney

Glenn, thanks for the comments. All I can tell you is that I have grown up around livestock my whole life and I have never ever seen this kind of behaviour. I have tried to watch the video several times and it is to disturbing. This guy needs to be held accountable and made an example of so any repeat occurrences are prevented.

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Janice

Glenn, I am sorry about the experience you had as a child. I think what Mike writes about and what I would also advocate for is people next door making a report about such abuse. Whether the farmer was active or complicate or what in this case seems unclear but the worker, based on what I’ve seen is a criminal and should be prosecuted as likely the farmer next door to you should have. But that doesn’t mean the other 20 farms on that road deserve to be tainted by accusations.

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Alan

I have seen abuse on feedlots before here in alberta, last winter 2 guys chased a cow that got out and was running throught the fields. They were using a telehandler and half ton truck to bump the cow in the general direction of the feedlot. after about 20 minutes of this the cow was extremely exhausted and eventually they gave up. It was not the nicest thing to see when its -20 and the cow is panting and having a hard time.

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Crystal Mackay

This is by far the worst farm animal abuse I have ever seen (I too had a hard time watching it Shaun). There is no excuse or reason for it. As a farm girl myself, I have never witnessed anything like that and would report it to the SPCA the minute I saw it, not weeks later to make a campaign out of it. This is NOT typical of any farm or farmer I’ve ever met.

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Scott

I also only made it part way through the video. I also grew up on a farm with livesock and this can’t be tolerated. Given the camera angles and movement, the person taking the video had to have been complicit in the abuse. My suspicion is that both people knew eachother, and perhaps share the same agenda. The industry needs to be in the forefront decrying this type of action. I don’t believe for a moment that this video represents the ‘typical’ treatment of animals on any type of farm. The farmers I know treat their animals with care, even if for no other reason than the cold hard fact that comfortable animals produce better and are easier to work with. Can you imagine how difficult those cows must have been to work with after the torture they experienced? This pair of abusers needs to be made an example of.

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Eric Girard

Glenn, thanks for your involvement. This behavior is unacceptable. I come from myself from a dairy farm and I have never seen something brutal like this. I agree with Shaun Haney comments and some actions need to be taken to avoid that kind of behavior in the future.

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Cara

Shaun, thanks for your perspective. I didn’t make it through the entire video either. I stopped at about one minute. I am encouraged that you haven’t seen this type of abuse, but I believe that it must happen.

I’m not anti-diary. I enjoy milk, cheese, kefir, etc. However, I can understand why this video is important. The motives of the Mercy group doesn’t matter to me. Without the knowledge of these abuses coming to light, then they would have continued indefinitely.

Would I personally wait 30 days to report it? Probably not, but if I reported it and nothing happened without proof, then I might rethink that position.

Also, Gary Conklin was identified in that video as well, according to the Columbus Dispatch. If true, he had to know what was going on and is using a worker as a scape goat.

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Amber

I do not have a farming background, but I have spent a significant amount of my adulthood working with small animals. If I ever have questions or concerns about how a coworker (or anyone else) is treating animals (very very rare) I go straight to my boss. If I felt my boss didn’t respond adequately, I would then go to the authorities. I wouldn’t let animals suffer for a month before releasing a video to the world. The abuse documented by the MFA was terrible, and I think anyone who watched this go on without reporting it is just as culpable. Would MFA members watch a child be abused numerous times for a month and not say anything because they were “building a case?” I certainly hope no one would do that. It seems to me their methods are less about mercy and more about shock value.

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alex

“In this case it was a farm employee who is caught on tape and the Conklin’s (farm owner) were not involved allegedly.” Obviously, you didn’t watch enough of the video to see Gary Conklin (farm owner) himself kicking a down cow 1:20—1:28. How can the owner of such a small farm not be involved in this kind of abuse? Ultimately, he should be held accountable for how HIS farm is run. As for the undercover filmer; yes, he stood by as the abuse took place, but for the ultimate goal of revealing this kind of cruelty to the world.

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LR

I would say that farm managers whether they be feedlot or dairy or any livestock business need to be very careful who they hire to work with their livestock. It looks obvious from the video that the people don’t know how to handle cattle. They become frustrated and angry and there is no excuse for that. Not only should the people in the video be prosecuted, they certainly should be sent packing and the managers of the business should also be held responsible for hiring and training employees. Livestock producers are wondering why demand is off on livestock and people are turning away from beef and pork and organizations like HSUS are gathering momentum. The industry needs to be held to a higher standard by its own membership. Good for carrying this story Shaun, it is a wake up call for all livestock producers.

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Kelly Barany

Shaun,

I didn’t watch the video – I know better because I know would bother me too much. A time will come when consumers will wake up and want to know that the meat and animal products they are eating have been produced in a way that is humane. If you consider the quality of life of alot of these barn housed animals including hogs and chickens, it is very poor.

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steve bryan

I can only say Conklin Dairy Farms should be closed. Many farms in Tennessee welcome tours and those are the farmers we buy from. No one with HSUS is anti agriculture in my opinion.. It isn’t what we do, it’s how we do it.

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