Help us to end the mutilation of farmed animals
A message from the founder and director of Viva!, Juliet Gellatley:
“It's a goat’s life! Waited on hand and foot, with ‘room service’ delivering the perfect menu of food. In these pampered conditions… our goats enjoy all of life’s home comforts…”
That must be why so many people believe that goat farming exists in a kind, cruelty-free world of its own, where gentle old ladies tend a handful of friendly animals and know each one by name.
These gushing claims come from the website of Delamere Dairy, the UK’s largest suppliers of goats’ milk, cheese and yogurts. Could it actually be that goats have been spared the horrors of factory farming, that conscience and compassion have finally found a place to take root? We thought we had better find out and so sent our undercover team to investigate.
We started with one of the producers that supplies Delamere Dairy, Upper Enson Farm in Stafford, with 1,800 animals. It was strewn with dead kids and had a skip overflowing with corpses. It was not what we had wanted to find.
We were told that the cause was cryptosporidia, spread through excreta. There was no shortage of excreta on this farm!
Open-ended sheds were packed with hundreds of nanny goats, many waiting to enter the poetically named ‘milking parlour.’ Not a thing of dairy maids but a huge, rotary, mechanical, milking construction – a futuristic nightmare. We saw sores, hooves curled from neglect, a bloodied goat who had just given birth, a goat on her knees – unable to stand on her front feet, pendulous, oversized udders and grossly swollen teats. The goats were milked by automated, pulsing, often filthy, tubes to the sound of distorted pop music.
On this farm, the male kids are sold on – mostly for the ethnic meat market. But first they are mutilated. A tight rubber band is placed around their scrotums above the testes, which slowly wither and die. The Government advisory body, FAWC, says it causes pain and distress and should be used as little as possible, and only then with pain relief. Not on this farm!
For little nanny goats the suffering, if anything, is even worse. A worker holds the struggling infant down in her lap as she forces a heated device down into the kid’s skull to ‘disbud’ her – burn out the horn buds. One kid followed another and each one cried out with heart-rending baby bleats and screams.
Again the FAWC describes the procedure as “painful and stressful” whilst theVeterinary Surgeons Act 1966 says it should be done by a vet, preferably under a general anesthetic. Not on this farm!
Another farm I visited is Bromes Farm, near Taunton, Somerset, which has about 1,200 animals. It was heart breaking to film the beautiful, innocent reasons for the nanny goats’ milk – their baby kids. As with all mammals, goats only produce milk because they give birth. These loving and protective mothers have their babies taken away almost immediately after birth.
I watched them, only days old, being placed in a pen with artificial teats protruding from the wall.
They were trying to play, tottering, falling, struggling to stand up, falling again, and were sucking at each other’s noses and ears because their mothers were nowhere to be found.
We were informed that the male kids were, until recently, ‘disposed of’ by swinging them by their legs to smash their heads against a metal post. When we filmed, however, a market had been found for their disposal!
Delamere Dairy sells goat milk products to almost every supermarket in the UK, including Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Co-op, Budgens, Asda, M&S and Whole Foods. Not only do they claim to have exceptionally high animal welfare standards but their health claims are equally as flamboyant.
Goats’ milk, they say, is an ideal substitute for people with a cows’ milk intolerance. The science says it isn’t. Other claims for the beneficial nature of goats’ milk are also not supported by the science and yet this industry has grown and prospered on the back of them.
This cruel, rapidly-growing industry is just a mirror image of the dairy industry and as revulsion grows against cows’ milk so goats’ milk is energetically promoted with entirely false claims.
Before it gets any bigger, Viva! has to use the knowledge it has, the embarrassing footage and admissions, the reality of desperate little animals whose suffering is clearly ignored. We need to get our footage out to the public so a brake is applied to these horrors; we need to attack and disprove the health claims with genuine science and by so doing destroy the marketing hype; we have to expose these ludicrous claims of ‘room service’ for goats.
Whilst fighting these battles we need to stop the appalling mutilations which have been allowed to grow and prosper without anyone giving a damn. We need to fight these and end them as an interim measure to reduce suffering.
I know you will be as horrified by our discoveries as we were, so please can we urge you to be as generous as you can. We have set out our campaign of action which we know will have an impact but it is dependent upon funding. Now more than ever we need your generous support as resources are hard to find in this time of austerity. Please send us something to help our campaign – anything – and we will go into battle for these grossly abused animals who are impotent to act for themselves.
Yours for the animals
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