Video taken during fourth investigation of Florida dairy farms shows dead cows at farm
ARM calls for criminal charges to be brought against Davie Dairy Farm employees
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – The Animal Recovery Mission released new video Wednesday, which it said shows animal abuse taking place at the Davie Dairy Farm in Okeechobee.
The video also shows numerous dead cows at the farm.
This is the fourth ARM investigation of apparent animal abuse taking place at dairy farms in Florida.
ARM investigators said in a news release that investigators captured surveillance footage during a two-month undercover operation of dairy cows being forced to live in unsanitary conditions and being "repeatedly beaten and tormented on a daily basis."
ARM investigators said the cows were whipped with fiberglass poles that are meant to be used as a guiding tool and were electrically prodded in the udders and reproductive areas during the cow herding process.
***WARNING: Video contains graphic images that some may find disturbing.
Calves and cows were also kicked and dragged in order to expedite production, ARM claimed.
According to the news release, employees were seen throwing newborn and juvenile calves into the air while putting them in double-decker units, causing the newborns to flip and land on their backs and heads.
ARM investigators said the cows are tightly packed into transport trailers and employee were captured on video shoving calves into any available space and hitting them in the face as they attempted to close the doors.
The overcrowding in the trailers leads to the calves being stomped on and crushed by one another, investigators said.
ARM investigators claimed that Davie Dairy Farm owner Theodore Berman was always present during the loading process.
Investigators also witnessed many calves dying from the heat conditions in their "cramped, primitive structure" that had "little to no protection from the elements," the news release stated.
Investigators said they used thermal index devices to detect temperatures of 115 degrees and above on numerous occasions.
According to the news release, milk from Davie Dairy Farm is collected by distribution trucks from Southeast Milk, which is a co-op-owned company made up of more than 320 dairy farms.
The dairy products are processed and then distributed to supermarkets, such as Publix and Winn Dixie.
ARM is calling for criminal charges to be brought against the workers who were captured on camera abusing cows.
Southeast Milk released a statement, saying that all four farms currently being investigated have been placed on probationary status in the FARM program and have begun implementing corrective actions.
"It is our understanding that the video footage obtained by ARM on Davie Dairy, as with the other farms, was taken during the late summer or before," the statement read in part. "Though we did not learn of these allegations until recently, we have acted swiftly and decisively since that time, working with our member farms to take all corrective actions suggested by third-party auditors and have fully cooperated with national and local law enforcement.
"Specifically, the farms all worked to terminate and retrain employees, as appropriate, and have made changes to calf housing, reviewed protocols for euthanasia and the handling of sick or injured animals, and examined emergency preparedness measures. It is our hope that all footage has now been provided to the appropriate authorities so that, in the best interest of animals, steps can be taken to now address any and all issues discovered this summer."
Southeast Milk stated that its member owners and operators have since completed "mandatory, remedial animal care trainings."
"This series of trainings, held in Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida, represent the completion of the first of three commitments made by SMI immediately after learning of animal care and handling issues on several of its member farms in Okeechobee," the statement read.
Southeast Milk also pledges to "implement the newest version of the National Dairy FARM Program -- the dairy industry's animal care program that requires stricter adherence to training protocols and animal care best management practices," and to "work with membership to implement or strengthen video monitoring on their farms."
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