A Texas dairy heifer ranch was the center of attention following the release of footage from an undercover investigation by the animal-rights group Mercy For Animals. The footage, released to the public Tuesday, included graphic images of employees at the E6 Cattle Company in Hart, Texas, bludgeoning sick and injured calves.
According KDAF-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, the advocacy group filmed the abuse from March 2 to March 18.
Wednesday morning, dairy industry groups condemned the actions shown in the video.
"The actions depicted on the Mercy for Animals video are appalling and completely unacceptable," according to a statement released by Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff program.
"The actions in this video do not reflect the practices of the thousands of hard-working dairy farm families across the U.S. who care for their animals every day," the DMI statement said. "Dairy farmers and their employees take this responsibility very seriously. Texas' dairy farmers, as well as dairy farmers across the country, are as outraged by this video as the public."
KCBD-TV in Lubbock, Texas, carried the following statement from the owner of E6 Cattle Company: "I take full responsibility for what happened in the video. I am embarrassed and disappointed. The four men in the video have been fired. This is not what we do at the ranch and it will never happen again."
James Bias, president of SPCA of Texas, watched the video and agreed that the incidents were not common for any cattle ranch.
“This is not a normal livestock industry standard,” Bias said. “There is no defense to prosecution in claiming that this is some kind of industry standard because no one would say that a pick-axe is the best way to euthanize downed livestock."
The new National Dairy FARM program Animal Care Manual has a specific appendix explaining the proper application of euthanasia.
"It does not permit manually applied blunt force trauma, as was depicted in the video," according to the National Milk Producers Federation, which developed the FARM program. "The program’s guidelines also disavow malicious striking or dragging animals, and encourage the use of analgesics during dehorning and debudding."