Authorities Look Into Cruelty Allegations At Dairy Farm Supplying Major Pizza Chains

An animal welfare activist secretly shot video of alleged animal abuse at a New Mexico dairy farm. The dairy supplies milk used to make cheese and then supplied to national pizza chains.

An animal welfare activist secretly shot video of alleged animal abuse at a New Mexico dairy farm. The dairy supplies milk used to make cheese and then supplied to national pizza chains.

A New Mexico dairy farm, a cheese supplier and the national pizza chains that receive said cheese are under fire after an activist working with an animal welfare group went undercover at the farm to record workers allegedly punching and kicking cows, and assaulting them with whips, chains, and cables..

The New Mexico Livestock Board launched an investigation into the practices at the currently closed Winchester Dairy, while activist group Mercy for Animals called on national pizza chains, such as Domino’s, that receive cheese produced by the dairy’s milk to implement animal welfare policies, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Mercy for Animals released the video, which was shot by an activist working at the farm in August and September, and includes footage of dairy employees kicking and punching cows, and shocking them with electric prods. Other scenes from the video show calves being tossed into the back of a truck and cows being dragged with heavy equipment or lifted with clamps.

A spokesperson for the Livestock Board says the group is investigating the issue aggressively.

Following the video’s release, Winchester sent a statement to the Associated Press saying that the company fired all employees and referred the abusive workers to law enforcement officials for further review.

Additionally, the company halted milking operations, stopped shipments to vendors and dispersed thousands of cows to other dairies. It’s unclear whether the farm’s closure is temporary pending the New Mexico board’s investigation.

Domino’s vice president of communications, Tim McIntyer tells the Detroit Free Press, the incident paints all dairy farms in a bad light.

“No act of cruelty can ever be condoned. Ever,” he says. “What we do know is that this is not an issue with our cheese supplier – it was an isolated case of sadistic acts by employees at a single dairy farm in southern New Mexico.”

Still, Mercy for Animals is calling out Leprino Foods, which produces cheese from the milk supplied by Winchester and supplies it to chains including Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s, to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for kicking, punching and shocking cows, as well as requiring suppliers to provide safe and sanitary environments for animals.

The activist group says the issues detailed in the video from Winchester Dairy are not isolated. Investigations at six other dairy farms around the country produced similarly shocking treatment of animals.

“So this isn’t a matter of a single dairy farm failing to meet industry standards. This is a matter of industry standards allowing for blatant animal abuse,” Matt Rice, the group’s director of investigations, tells the AP. “That’s why we’re calling on the industry to make improvements at all of its facilities to prevent this type of abuse.”

Below is the video shot by Mercy for Animals activists depicting the alleged animal abuse at Winchester Dairy.

WARNING: disturbing images.

Group levels abuse allegations against NM dairy [Associated Press]

Domino’s Pizza targeted after abuse at dairy farm [Detroit Free Press]