A new undercover investigation released this month by animal-rights group Compassion Over Killing (COK) found egregious abuse at Pennsylvania-based Martin Farms—a dairy supplier to several large corporations, including Nestlé-owned Dreyer’s ice cream. COK’s video footage shows workers dragging fatigued cows by their hips while hoisted to a tractor, spraying the animals in the face with scalding water, and stomping on sick cows to get them to move faster. One filmed incident involves a farm manager shooting a cow in the head and waiting a full minute as she suffers consciously to deliver another fatal blow. In a separate incident, a manager stabs a cow in the stomach with a sharp instrument in a failed attempt to treat an alleged ailment without the use of anesthesia or the help of a veterinarian. COK documented the act of workers slaughtering “downed” cows on premises and then distributing their flesh in garbage bags to fellow coworkers.  

The investigation also uncovered several routine practices Martin Farms engages in such as burning calves’ heads with a hot iron without anesthesia to prevent them from growing horns. In 2014, Nestlé committed to avoiding this practice in its supply chain and, after learning about this month’s COK investigation, cut ties with Martin Farms. However, COK reveals that 94 percent of the dairy industry engages in this practice and urges Nestlé to take a stand by shifting towards producing vegan products instead of attempting to distance itself from suppliers once they are caught engaging in wrongdoing. “Behind every sip of milk or scoop of ice cream that comes from a cow, there is unacceptable abuse and exploitation,” COK General Counsel Cheryl Leahy said. “We’re calling for criminal prosecution for the most egregious cruelty in this case, but this investigation also shows practices that are commonplace throughout the dairy industry yet so severely abusive that they’d result in criminal cruelty charges if inflicted on the dogs and cats in our homes.” COK has submitted its investigation to appropriate authorities and is calling for enforcement actions.

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