Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 27 percent of dairy farms in British Columbia failed to comply with the animal welfare Code of Practice. In 2014, local dairy operation Chilliwack Cattle Sales was charged with 20 counts of animal abuse after an undercover video exposed widespread cruelty, prompting the implementation of a Code of Practice requiring dairy farmers to undergo routine inspections by the B.C. Milk Marketing Board in order to mitigate animal abuse. During the 18-month period between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, the documents revealed that 20 out of the 73 farms inspected required “corrective action,” with 10 percent of those failing a follow-up inspection. Overcrowding, downed cows, torn-off tails, the branding and dehorning of calves without medication, and other abuses were cited as reasons for failing inspections. “I observed all the heifer pens to be dirty and wet,” one investigator wrote. “As a result, hygiene was poor and is negatively impacting heifers.” One farm was found to have only 32 stalls for its 86 heifers, forcing many to sleep outside on concrete, contributing to joint swelling and permanent injuries—eventually necessitating euthanasia. A recent survey revealed that the majority of Canadians distrust animal industry farmers and do not believe them to be good stewards of the environment. Findings at these dairy farms will serve to reaffirm these notions.
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