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.
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.