An animal rights group has released more videos from a Florida dairy already accused of abuse and another dairy in the same area.
A press conference was held on Dec. 13 by Animal Recovery Mission, a Miami-based animal rights group, showing additional footage from Larson Dairy Farm in Okeechobee Co. The group says the video shows dairy owner Jacob Larson was allegedly present when animal abuse was occurring.
“He saw and knew of the abuse,” said Animal Recovery Mission founder and investigator Richard 'Kudo' Couto. “Real violent stuff. They are rebarring the animals. Snapping and fracturing tails. Punching and kicking. And none of this was hidden.”
Larson continues to deny knowing the abuse was happening. The video in which he appears was obviously roughly cut and edited, making it unclear the sequence of events. Larson also told Dairy Herd Management that he is in the parlor when fresh heifers are being milked for the first time. The rebar hooks are used to aid in closing gates in the parallel parlor as these fresh heifers experience being milked for the first time and get accustomed to the milking and parlor routine. Closing these gates by hand would be too dangerous and would expose employees to the risk of injury.
“We are deeply saddened and appalled by the actions witnessed in this video, which first came to our attention this morning. The unusual use of force is simply unacceptable on our dairy or on any other farm,” Larson said in a statement on Nov. 7 after the first video was released.
Following the video release, Larson Dairy Farms was placed on probation by National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and Southeast Milk, Inc. for violation of FARM policy. Four former employees were wanted for arrest stemming from the abuse and only one is currently in custody.
Southeast Milk says that comprehensive and independent third-party audits have been conducted for Larson Dairy Farms. The cooperative began mandatory animal welfare training sessions for members on Dec. 11 prior to the latest videos release.
“Animal abuse is never tolerated, and rather than speculate about what may have happened in the past, as ARM did during its press conference, we instead are fully focused on moving forward with a renewed commitment to animal care and employee management and training,” said Jim Sleper, CEO of Southeast Milk.
Burnham Dairy Farm was the second farm in Okeechobee Co. to be targeted by Animal Recovery Mission and is under a similar probation.
Now, a third dairy in Okeechobee Co. has been accused of animal abuse following an undercover video investigation by Animal Recovery Mission. On Dec. 14, the animal rights group released a video alleging abuse at McArthur Farms.
In the video employees are seen hitting and stabbing cows with PVC pipe. While flame clipping udders there is footage of the flame being directed at cows’ faces. Handling of downer cows and calves is also highlighted with use of excessive force noted with both groups.
Other practices like ear tagging, artificial insemination and tubbing are mischaracterized by the group as being “violent” and “painful.”
This is the second undercover video investigation at McArthur Farms, following videos shot by the Humane Society of the U.S. in 1999.
“As we've said, we take these allegations extremely serious. We have zero tolerance for animal abuse and will make any improvements needed to ensure the health and well-being for all dairy cows,” Sleper said in a statement following the latest video.