Animal abuse charges filed against workers at Idaho’s biggest dairy farm: shocking?

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Animal abuse charges filed against workers at Idaho’s biggest dairy farm: shocking?
It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled – Mark Twain

News outlets across the country are calling the newly released undercover video footage of workers at a dairy farm in Idaho stomping on cows stuck in the milking bars, dragging a sick cow chained around the neck with tractors as she slips on a wet concrete floor, kicking and beating the helpless animals “shocking.”

It’s everywhere. “Shocking” abuse at Idaho’s largest dairy farm which indirectly supplies the milk made into cheese purchased by companies like Burger King and Kraft Foods.

We have to give the media credit for reporting the story, bravely shot with a hidden camera by a Mercy for Animals undercover investigator who got a job at Bettencourt Dairies’ Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen for a few weeks this summer.

But calling this abuse “shocking” is like the media reporting that it is shocked to find that people die in warfare. It is ignorant at best and outright misleading at worst.

Why is no one reporting that this video documents just another day in the life of an American factory farmed dairy cow? Because it’s a lot easier to go on with my life believing that the people responsible for hurting those “happy” cows will be punished and I can still enjoy a little extra cheese on my stuffed-crust pizza.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts around this particular documented case of “shocking” animal abuse.

Bettencourt Dairy owner Luis Bettencourt – this operation would fit the description of a “family farm” – said when the Idaho Department of Agriculture told him about the video and allegations, he was “sick about it,” according to the Associated Press.

Bettencourt runs 13 facilities keeping about 60,000 cows. He says they have “zero tolerance” for animal abuse and they are all “devastated” by the treatment of their cows by the five employees who have now been fired , three of whom face fines of up to $5,000 and six months of jail time.

Even if we are to believe that upper management was completely unaware of any kind of overt abuse, the conditions these animals are forced to live in would be considered abusive if a family pet were found to be confined to them.

The concrete floors are covered in slippery feces. The cows are forced to stand in metal cages for hours as they are milked dry. These are just some of the conditions that are evident in the video that management can’t claim ignorance to.

And if animal care is “No. 1” in their facilities, as the owners claim in their statement, they would have had the cameras they just now installed to rescue their profits from this public relations nightmare running before Mercy for Animals came in for just a few weeks and found employees sadistically torturing their cows.

What’s really shocking here is that people are shocked. Cows, gentle, social and intelligent beings with a potential lifespan of up to 30 years, are sucked dry after just a few years at a dairy farm before being sent to slaughter. They are seen as cow juice machines existing only to produce a profit.

Cows produce 2.5 times more milk today than they did in 1950, according to Born Free USA. This is 10 to 20 times more than they would need to produce if they were nourishing their calves.

And this is perhaps the most tragic aspect to the dairy industry. Do human mothers realize that in order for their children to drink cow’s milk another baby is deprived of the nourishment that was meant for it?

Mothers should be the most outspoken opponents of forcefully depriving another mother of her child, instead, many unfortunately believe that they are doing the best for their children by feeding them a concoction of hormones never meant for a human digestive tract.

Cows are continually impregnated as this is the only way to keep them producing milk. After her baby is born, it is often stolen from her within 24 hours. One of the most outstanding demonstrations of the tragedy of this common dairy farm practice is the story of the mother dairy cow who had twins and attempted to hide one in the forest so it would not be taken from her. Read the heartwarming (breaking) tale here.

These babies end up as veal. Besides pollution of our air, land and water, a baby cow chained alone in a cold veal crate is one of the top byproducts of that extra cheese on your pizza.

In order to produce all the milk needed for our growing addiction, cows are pumped up with chemicals, hormones and antibiotics to keep them from succumbing to the filthy conditions they are made to live in.

And then one guy spends a couple weeks on a dairy farm and documents business as usual and everyone is “shocked.”

We should be informed now, not shocked. We don’t need to drink cow’s milk to live healthy lives. Research reveals the opposite. Countries with the highest rates of dairy consumption also happen to be the unhealthiest.

Sure, dairy might have calcium and vitamin D swimming around in all those hormones, chemicals, pus (the FDA allows 750 million pus cells in every liter of milk), blood and antibiotics, but the typical over-multi-vitamined public urinates the extra nutrients our bodies can’t use every day and I don’t see people touting the nutritional qualities of my pee.

But it’s natural. Well, there’s not one mammal’s natural excretion you could get me to suck down at this point in my life.


Tina is a journalist and mother of three who's lived all her life in the South Bay of Los Angeles except for a two-year stint in the heart of Spain. She believes humans have the capacity to make this a beautiful world for all species to live, and mothers have a special charge to raise their children to enjoy, love and respect all creatures.

  • Elena Palumbo Mosca

    It is our duty to try and fight such atrocious human behaviour.

  • Elena Palumbo Mosca

    Such behaviour must be punished.

  • Sam

    This is disgusting how animals are treated. Humans don’t deserve to live amongst them.

  • Tricia

    Everyone by now knows that animals are treated atrociously on factory farms. How they continue to eat animal products is beyond me.

  • angela porter

    this is too horrific to fully watch – i hope that those involved were all sacked for such a disgusting lack of respect for life – and just reinforces my dislike for the concept of battery farming on this scale

  • http://sarathlete.wordpress.com Sara Sawochka

    For more information on where your food comes from and how it gets from the farm to the fridge check out MeatVideo.com.

  • GEORGE A JAKOVICS

    These sadists all & the owner need to be put away for 5 + Years.