Muller and RSPCA react to Prees calves abuse video

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The RSPCA has called footage of animals being abused in a north Shropshire abattoir “very distressing”. The animal welfare body was responding after an undercover investigation by the Animal Justice Project at Oaklands Livestock Centre near Prees found mistreatment of cows between November 2020 and March 2021. Calves were filmed being killed nearly a minute after stunning, despite the Food Standards Agency and Humane Slaughter Association recommending a delay of no more than 15 seconds.

The footage also showed young calves of a few days old being thrown down trailer and truck ramps, lifted by their tails, kicked, kneed, punched, hit with sticks, dragged by their ears, slapped, pushed, and having gates rammed onto their legs. Footage also showed a calf being ‘hurled across a pen and kicked in the head’. Muller, whose dairy animals were supplied to Oaklands, has discontinued working with the farm after the video came to light.

Veterinary expert, Molly Vasanthakumar, described the findings as being ‘highly distressing’. She said: “There is footage here showing calves offered a single milk feed, without any water or fibrous food, over 21 hours. “Leaving young animals with insufficient feed and water not only breaches legislation, but impacts the welfare of these calves.

“A group of young calves waiting so many hours to be killed, without food, or an initial inspection is not only a breach of regulations, but means that these animals continue to suffer after an inevitably stressful journey to the slaughterhouse. “The youngest calf; being housed overnight in a draughty slaughterhouse lairage in winter will predispose them to cold stress – a clear health and welfare concern.” An RSPCA spokesperson said: “This footage is very distressing, no animals should be kicked or punched.

We are concerned that there also appears to be violations of the regulations in place to protect animal welfare at abattoirs. “As soon as we received the footage we contacted the Animal Plant and Health Agency to urge them to look into this as soon as possible. As the official government body, it is fully equipped and resourced to investigate and take action.

“The welfare of farm animals is of huge importance to us, and we remain committed to preventing cruelty, alleviating suffering and continuing our broad areas of work on improving the lives of farm animals. Anyone with concerns about animal welfare can always contact us on 0300 1234 999.” Claire Palmer, founder of the pressure group Animal Justice Project, said: “Ultimately, the solution to the bull calf problem in this country lies with the consumer and we urge them to ditch dairy today and choose instead compassionate plant-based alternatives now widely available on every high street.”

A spokesperson for Muller Milk & Ingredients added: “It is important to stress that dairy farmers who supply Muller have welcomed measures we put in place to stop the practice of euthanising bull calves on farm. “Our expectation is that bull calves which are then sold for rearing are subject to welfare standards which are fully compliant with guidelines and best practice. “In light of this evidence of mistreatment, we have therefore instructed farmers to cease supplying Oaklands with immediate effect.”

Oaklands boss Derek Whittall was unavailable for comment.

Shropshire Council has also confirmed it is investigating.