Dairy farm animal abuse part of the economic model



Dairy industry representatives, academics and the Minister for Primary Industries were full of denials this week as they all sought to explain, excuse, diminish or justify animal cruelty on dairy farms, exposed again by FarmWatch.

Of ten apparently random dairy farms surreptiously filmed by FarmWatch, nine showed mistreatment of ‘bobby’ calves. Newborn calves unwanted for breeding or meat were shown aggressively separated from their concerned mothers, one calf at least was dragged across the paddock by a hind leg, some were left dead in wooden bins, discarded. Many were callously thrown into crates on the back of tractors, kept waiting for collection in basic cages on the side of the road, hurled, brutally, into the back of the trucks used to cart them off to death in the meat works.
No one should reasonably deny the video footage shows the mistreatment and cruelty to innocent young animals – and their suffering mothers, but dairy industry advocates do, and their defences ring hollow.

Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, said “a few laggards” are responsible for these instances – as if it was just by chance that nine of the ten farms filmed showed brutal behaviour toward the calves. He said such farmers and animal handlers ‘need to pull their socks up”, as if they’re schoolyard miscreants – not actually breaking the law, damaging dairying’s reputation, hurting and killing innocent and confused, newborn animals. Mr Guy claimed there are ‘hard hitting’ regulations in place against animal cruelty, that infringement notices can be applied, that improvements are on their way…. All the while dismissing and demeaning the severity of the treatment shown and the systemically exploitative and cruel practices to animals and the environment, on every day farms.

There are two million unwanted dairy calves sent to the meat works each year. And an unknown quantity that don’t make it that far. For the 12,000 farms in New Zealand there are only 17 dedicated welfare officers and 31 compliance officers. That’s about 100,000 calves per inspector. FarmWatch say new rules brought in last year after their expose of widespread brutality to calves, have done little to address animal abuse. Behaviour as shown in their videos was illegal then, as it is illegal now, but little compliance action is taken and abuse is still the norm.

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Federated Farmers representatives admitted that such practices are part of everyday farm life. Lifting and dragging calves from a hind leg, or forcefully hurling them backwards into trucks, is not cruelty they said, despite the evidence. “It’s common farming practice”, “typical farm life”. Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers’ Dairy Chair, admitted ‘It did look rough” however. “It wouldn’t look great to someone who isn’t used to farming”. But he also sought to pass the buck, saying “it’s not farming that’s the issue but truck driver handling”. As if the truck drivers throwing the animals into the truck didn’t follow the forced forced breeding and milking of cows, separation of calves from mothers, and as if it didn’t precede the transportation of said calves jammed in trucks to the slaughter house – where of course FarmWatch have also revealed atrocious treatment of these placid animals.

Federated Farmers say farmers ‘treat their animals like their babies’. I’d like to believe that there are kind and loving farmers out there. But the whole process is one based on disrespect, mistreatment and exploitation of animals.

Andrew Hoggard said public outrage shows people’s disconnect with farming life”. In that case, FarmWatch is doing us all a favour for exposing what would be appalling treatment for any animal. If this treatment was inflicted upon a dog or a cat, there’d be hell to pay. The public certainly shouldn’t support it.

The dairy industry and its marketing gurus would have us believe dairying is all happy cud-chewing cows in flowery meadows, not captive and milk producing ‘machines’ and ‘discarded’ calves thrown about like inanimate objects. FarmWatch have exposed a landscape of heartache, maternal loss, brutality. Dead calves lie disregarded, piled on top of each other like holocaust victims. Live calves are treated like the nearly dead. Add to that Mike Joy and others’ revelations about wider environmental impacts of dairy and it’s clear this isn’t just an isolated issue, but strikes to the heart of farming as an economic model where animals, earth and water (and some employees) are treated like things; commodified, economic units. Worthless only except in terms of potential earning.
Meanwhile Professor of Agribusness at Waikato University, Jaqueline Rowarth attempts to say separating babies from their mothers at a few days old is best practice. Throwing them around even though they’re unsteady enough on their feet, hurling them into trucks and taking them to the meat works to be killed, ‘it’s not cruelty, it’s not like waterboarding, or pulling the wings off flies (??), it’s not ‘torturing for pleasure’’’.

Professor Rowarth says that the videos, and campaign to expose animal mistreatment on dairy farms is driven by a vegan agenda. But if the poor treatment didn’t occur, there would be nothing to expose. And for many, such practices are what drive the vegan agenda, not the other way round.
Dairying is an industry where mistreatment of animals and the land and water, are the norm, where animal cruelty and despoliation of nature are defended by the government. As ‘common farming practices’ such as these are exposed, for whatever reason, it’s legitimate that they should be rejected by consumers, and changed by farmers and governments alike. Until the regulators and the producers recognise there’s a problem that needs to end, increasing numbers of consumers like me, will pledge to be dairy free, and refuse to buy into the dirty dairy model and its products. That will be better for the animals themselves, our own health, and the planet.


  1. Since the original video tape by Farmwatch, I have stopped consuming milk and will persist with soymilk.

    If consumer boycotts are all that the dairy industry understand, then so be it.

    • goodonya frank…for yr dairy boycott..(pams blue pack is the best for tea/coffee..so good vanilla rocks most breakfasts..)

      but are ya gonna stop eating animals anytime soon..?..

      • Phillip, yup, I’ve found the Pam’s stuff reasonably good. Hard to recall now if it’s any different to milk. (I just wish it came in a recyclable container. I must contact Pams on this point.)

        I’ve even started remembering to request a soy-flat-white when at a cafe or restaurant.

        Pretty much stopped eating cheese. (Soy cheese?)

        As for “gonna stop eating animals anytime soon”… working on it, Phillip, working on it…

      • Dennis, do you have further information on that?

        And even if so, my preference is to consume soy milk, irrespective of possible GM content, rather than be a benefactor of unnecessary maltreatment of animals. I have chosen to consume a milk-type product, whereas calve have no choice being born into an industry that does seem to understand humane treatment of animals.

        • There is Soy milk available with makers stating ” No GM”.

          Some are also gluten free and with low sugar.

          Just a bit of homework needed such as ringing the number on the container and asking. That way they get some feedback as to what the public want.

          Some advertise as per this example ( not that i use Sanitarium for other reasons )


          Most of the golbal GM soy is fed to animals or used for bio-fuel but some food manufacturers do not discriminate and take the cheapest supply available.

          As a consumer you have to let them know that you won’t buy it nor there brand.

          There are a lot of myths about Soy, many of them promoted by beef sector funded agencies like the Weston Price Foundation with big money and PR companies helping drive consumption towards beef. Soy scares them but not because of health consequences.

          There is plenty of good information available about Soy.


  2. Federated Farmers defence of this seems to have three parts.
    Part 1: We don’t condone this.
    Part 2: It is only a few farmers that do this.
    Part 3: We are taking active steps to stop this.
    And then they completely contradict themselves by saying that it is actually a matter of perception, not fact. What “townies” (they love using that word for any one who is not a farmer) think is cruelty is not actually cruelty at all, its just normal farming practice. If townies think this is cruel then it simply shows the “disconnection” between farmers and townies.
    On the one hand they don’t condone it, on the other hand they declare it is normal practice!!!!
    And then they go on to blame Farm Watch for the whole thing. The reason being if Farm Watch didn’t go blabbing to the whole world about what was going on no-one would know, and if no-one knows then it isn’t a problem right?
    And then they go on about how Farm Watch are illegally entering farms endangering their employees and the stock! (He didn’t provide any evidence about Farm Watch actually harming anyone or anything).
    In the farming world it seems that two wrongs make a right.
    It also seems that in the farming world rules and laws don’t apply if they are inconvenient.
    It also seems that you can go crying to the National Party whenever things go wrong because you know you can rely on National’s massive Goebbels department resources to spin you out of trouble.

  3. “There are two million unwanted dairy calves sent to the meat works each year. And an unknown quantity that don’t make it that far. For the 12,000 farms in New Zealand there are only 17 dedicated welfare officers and 31 compliance officers. That’s about 100,000 calves per inspector. ”

    I wonder how supermarkets would react when people stage a protest outside their doors, raising awareness of all this mistreatment and the mass slaughter of unwanted calves, all for the sake of having a secure, continued milk supply for consumers.

    I bet they will get the police come to attend, and have trespass notices issued to all the protestors.

    Dairy is big business, so the government, the industry and others involved, they will all dismiss concerns and continue their denials, as the dollar bill comes first, animal welfare comes after that.

    We have the same with other things, like the fishing industry and its discarded by-catch, with endangered species being harmed or killed, we have it with mono-culture in forestry, which is not environmentally friendly, we have it even with the mass tourism now, where the significant extra emissions of airplanes and rented cars are never talked about.

    GROWTH is all that counts, economic growth, output, profit and KPIs in general. People are as workers also expected to function like robots who never get sick or injured, and if they do, they are not even given much time to recover, as our new welfare policy ideologues tell us that work is “therapeutic”, so people should not end up “workless”.

    What progress have we got? As most modern day consumers live in larger and medium size cities, they never experience much what industrialised farming looks like, many do not even know what bobby calves are.

  4. One small point. All calves are separated from their mothers within 12to 24 hrs to actually stop too much bonding between mother and offspring. Whilst it may look cruel you should see the mayhem if they are left together for weeks and then separated. Believe me it is both carnage and heart breaking to witness.
    The life of a dairy cow is not all beer and skittles – it is probably preferable to be sent to the works at 4 days old than to be a milk ‘machine’.

  5. Yep stopping dairy consumption will also be a chance to improve your health.

    Milk does not “build healthy bones” but actually depletes your calcium supply.

    The countries with the highest milk consumption have the highest rate of osteoporosis.

    Mild the dairy bullshit they feed out to the public.

    Your best calcium supply is from a variety of green vegetables as is your iron.

    Where do cows get their from, not by eating meat.

  6. pretty mush a stony silence from the animal-eaters..eh..?


    as each day goes by it does get harder to justify..if you pretend at all to care about planet etc..eh..?

    ‘cos really..all of this misery/polluting is being done in yr names..eh..?

    ..just so you can chew on animal flesh..(as you hold impassioned discussions fretting about climate change etc…eh..?

    i’ve said it before – bullshit-on-a-reckin’-stick

    how can it not be..?

    you can’t fucken avoid that glaring fact..can you..?

    • Humans have short digestive tracts compared to closely-related ape species and have poor (non-renewing) teeth compared to all hebivorous species because humans have evolved to eat meat. Indeed, most of the features -upright posture, ability to run long distances and throw accurately, ability to sweat etc.- that distinguish Homo sapiens from closely related species are adaptations for chasing, killing and eating animals.


      The decline in human health that commenced with the adoption of agriculture has been well documented. That decline is accelerating now that low-nutrient industrially-produced food has been normalized.

      The crux of the problem is that humans got far too good at killing animals and eradicated or nearly eradicated most of the large predators -big cats, wolves, bears etc. that had previously kept the ‘greedy ape’ numbers down. And modern humans also figured out how to capture animals (and people) and put them to use via nooses, leases, yokes, fences, cages, treadmills etc. This entire ‘civilisation’ is dependent on abuse of animals and people, which is why abuse will continue.

      Chop down forests and jungles to make way for the growing of yet more soy beans and other industrially-grown crops, eliminate the habitat of dozens (some say hundreds) of species per day, and then take the moral high ground on animal rights??????

      We are in a progress trap from which there is no escape. Nor is there any political will to prepare for the inevitable collapse of present arrangements, which looks set to commence around 2020.

      Ignorance (or denial) is bliss for the moment.

      • China implemented a one child policy in the late 1970 and that still stands today with minor modification in exceptional cases.

        Her population will peak and fall away.

        Every country should have followed suit but Western countries are irresponsible and allow speculation and profit taking to dominate policy. Forever seeking growth to line the pockets of a few.

        Humans have a very long digestive tract compared with meat eating species. It pays to carefully check sources of information the diet of primitive man as commercial interests dominate some organisations spreading many myths .

        Science is cautious and slow to lay claims without a wealth of data and analysis. peer reviewed papers backed by rigorous testing of conclusions.

        The largest health / food/ diet and lifestyle study ever undertaken over many decades involving data from close to a billion people, followed up and tested over another 25 years of rigorous data collection by several universities across a number oc countries. is worth reading about.

        The China Study – Colin T Campbell.

  7. nah, I don’t care what excuses anyone says, this cruelty is wrong on so many levels. It’s heinous and disgusting. NZ farmers and the dairy industry make me feel ashamed. They don’t have to be cruel to make a profit. This is a disgrace.

  8. We all know times are tough for many dairy farmers. Huge profits and a fine living can be made from agriculture. I’m with Warren Buffet in believing agriculture is a very wise investment.

    Too many cows say the Greens, too much abuse of bobby calves say welfare groups. Well, they could be right. I imagine many farmers feel with the sweat of their brow, they’ve carried the NZ economy many times. Now they lament how they’re seen as pests, abusive and environmentally dangerous.

    Things are going to have to change within dairy farming and agriculture in general. I’m not in the farming click but even looking from the outside in, change is clearly coming. Change can happen suddenly, I believe farming subsidies were suddenly cut by Labour in 1984.

    The abuse of bobby calves and even the sickness in animals is related to the evil/love in a farmers heart. When times are tough, compassion and good judgement can go by the wayside. It sounds like these calves are being treated as inconveniences and very harshly so. As NZ society brakes down even more, the disease and abuse of animals will increase.

    Perhaps farmers should do something new under the sun. Grow some GE free soybeans for Frank, plant an orchard, some pine trees, figs, hemp – diversify and specialize in a couple of things. I don’t want to see people out of business, but if you can not respect the land u should not be in business?

    Easy for me to say, though many farmers are sing my tune.

    • Lot of excuses there amongst the platitudes, the Farmers are heavily subsidized, and are the first to put their hands out, so what’s 30+ years ago got to do with present day?

    • Lot of excuses there amongst the platitudes, the Farmers are heavily subsidized, and are the first to put their hands out, so what’s 30+ years ago got to do with present day?.

      • We pay very dearly for the dairy industry. It will cost billions if we set to rectify the pollution and damage to wild life and environment caused by animal husbandry in NZ.

        Many fresh water species lost to significant area as well as marine species affected by polluted nursery areas.

        Ground water polluted and water supply threatened in many areas.

        Banks demand intensified management, fertiliser kills the soil and as does the Mansanto / Wrightsons biocides which we consume in food and water in many areas.

  9. Excellent work from Farmwatch again – raising awareness about the real price of milk.
    There is no humane way to separate calves from their mothers and send them to slaughter. We have a grossly misplaced sense of control and domination over these sentient beings.

  10. There are two things that must happen and they must happen in this order.

    Thing # 1

    Purge NZ / Aotearoa of the foreign owned Banks. All of them.

    Thing #2

    Come down on cockies and corporate cowsploiters like a ton of fucking bricks on those who abuse their animals.
    ALL dairy cows should, by law, live in loafing sheds to protect them from winter weather.
    ALL sheep pre-lamb-shorn MUST, by law, have covers put on them at the time of shearing.
    ( We had 3000 breeding ewes back in the late 1960’s and every one of them was covered with a canvas cover at the time of shearing. The shearer would slip the cover over the ewe, tie knots in the two leg ropes to tighten them on and out they went. They ate significantly less winter feed and there was no break in the staple. )

    Greed leads to desperation and as the Banksters inevitably close in for the kill humans and animals alike are doomed to suffer.

    Kind of like what these scum bags did/are doing but to general business.

    Royal Bank of Scotland.

    On a local note.


    • Country boy i totally agree.

      I hate cruelty to animals in any shape or form.

      These people should not be allowed to farm animals , herd them anywhere or transport them anywhere

      These people are mentally unfit to be allowed to have access to any animal ,small children and people in general and should be in jail.

      If anybody wants to help stop this ill treatment then donate to Farm Watch if you are serious about this disgusting situation and keeping the public informed.

      Thankyou Christine Rose for a well written post on this issue.
      I totally agree with your views.

    • THE problem in a nut shell CB.


      TNX Phil.

      Russell Norman made mention of our Govt issuing limited funds to address some of its functions and was attacked by John Key and mob , called a communist. Key as a criminal banker knows well that they issue new money all the time in fact 97% of NZ new money – billons a year..

      Wake up NZ and up you John Key criminal banker.

  11. ”And for many, such practices are what drive the vegan agenda, not the other way round” Very well put.

  12. Does this also happen on ‘organic’ farms? Or are there practical alternatives to the cruelties of industrial dairy, poultry, pig and fish farming?

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