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Abuse of cattle at B.C. dairy farm prompts industry 'disgust'

VANCOUVER — The head of the Dairy Farmers of Canada says he was disgusted and devastated by animal abuse caught on tape at a British Columbia dairy farm.

The undercover video filmed by the group Mercy for Animals shows employees at Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd. beating and punching cattle at the farm. Several employees are beating with chains, sticks, rakes, feet and fists.

Wally Smith said the abuse is intolerable.

“I hate to see animals mistreated,” Smith said in a statement Tuesday. “I cannot begin to understand why some people would do this to animals.”

The chairman of the B.C. Dairy Association, Dave Taylor, said the incident is a black mark on the industry.

“Having witnessed the footage, we are deeply shaken,” Taylor said. “Organizationally, we will be taking proactive steps to further our already strong animal care practices.”

There is zero tolerance for such actions, he said.

“We feel it vital to assert that this abuse is in no way common practice in our industry,” Taylor said.

But the incident prompted several calls for greater scrutiny of the dairy industry.

“The cows on this dairy factory farm experience nothing but fear, violence, and deprivation at the hands of sadistic animal abusers,” Twyla Francois, of Mercy For Animals Canada, said in a statement.

“This investigation proves that the dairy industry is incapable of self-regulation. The government must step in to create and enforce standards to protect farmed animals from needless cruelty.”

The Vancouver Humane Society echoed that call, saying there should be random inspections and mandatory video surveillance of livestock operations.

The British Columbia SPCA has recommended criminal charges against eight employees of the farm.

The SPCA also said the incidents shows a need for better standards to protect farm animals in the province.

Chilliwack Cattle Sales is the largest dairy farm in the country, with more than 3,500 animals. The farm is certified under the Canadian Quality Milk Program run by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, which aims to ensure proper management and food safety on dairy farms.

The Kooyman family that owns the farm released a statement saying they are devastated.

“We will be taking any and all steps necessary to assure that no such incident takes place on our family farm in the future,” they said.

The family, which founded the farm in 1957 in the city 100 kilometres east of Vancouver, fired the employees who were allegedly involved.

 
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