Response to the “Animal Welfare Expert” in WLFI Article
Lafayette, IN news channel WLFI ran a story Monday about the animal abuse videos at Fair Oaks Farms where an “animal welfare expert” Dr. Candace Croney claimed that some of what was witnessed in the videos was not abuse. Here is our response and why she is wrong.
We would first like to point out that the article states that Dr. Croney has a working relationship with Fair Oaks, working with personnel at their Pig Adventure. She is not a disinterested third party, but one of the players in an industrial scale system of violence and abuse.
I was astounded that Dr. Croney said she deliberately stopped watching the video yet the station relied upon her to act as an “expert” for their story. If you can’t even watch a video of what happens in an agricultural practice, maybe it’s time to end that practice.
When reading Dr. Croney’s analysis, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. These practices happen on all dairy farms. We often hear the term “standard practice” used to describe animal suffering that is widely practiced and accepted. “Standard practice” doesn’t mean cruelty free.
2. Many abhorrent cruelties are perfectly legal, therefore not legally considered “abuse.” That doesn’t make it okay.
3. Animal welfare experts are not looking out for the best interests of the animals. They help the industry find ways to minimize the cruelty so that its more acceptable to the paying consumer. If they really had the best interests of the animals at heart, they would advocate for ending the cruelty rather than minimizing it.
4. Dr. Croney claims that putting the cow back in the milking line shortly after birth is best for the cow so they can quickly get the milk and spur milk production. Nature has provided a great way for new mothers to have their bodies produce milk…by allowing the baby to nurse. The reason they force them back into the milking line is so that they can maximize that milk production so humans can drink the milk meant for baby cows.
5. Dr. Croney claims that cows like the inhumane rotary system used by Fair Oaks because “they’re herd animals.” She goes on to say that the rotary system keeps them more comfortable. More comfortable than what? Because a rotary system is moderately less cruel than systems used on other farms does not mean it is cruelty free and certainly does not mean the mothers prefer it to being on a pasture nursing and raising their newborn calf.
6. Dr. Croney claims that the calf hutches are not harmful to the calves. These are the small, individual hutches that the newborns are moved to minutes after birth (picture below). She assumes that just because a calf isn’t being directly injured that it isn’t harmful. Newborn calves have a natural desire to be with their mothers. They cry out for them for days. Is it not harmful or cruel to deny a newborn the love and protection of her mother? It is not harmful or cruel that innocent babies experience only loneliness?
7. Dr. Croney claims that the rough handling, throwing, tail cranking and dragging are “not the norm” but that statement is disputed by literally hundreds of hours of undercover video taken on farms across the US for decades. An undercover investigator once told me, “Every single time we ever go onto a farm we see the same abuse.”
8. Where is the discussion about slaughter? Every dairy cow and their offspring will have their lives ended very short by being shipped off to a slaughterhouse. Her reward for years of confinement and milk production will be that final walk down a ramp into the slaughterhouse where her life will be taken. The male calves also end up at slaughter, either by being sent to a veal farm or by being sold to a farm where they will live a few years and be slaughtered themselves. It is astonishing that people care so much about whether a calf is hit and kicked, but think nothing of the fact that they are brutally killed. We shouldn’t have to point this out, especially to an “animal welfare expert” but being killed is worse than being kicked or dragged around.
We encourage you to watch the Fair Oaks videos yourself (HERE and HERE). As you watch, think to yourself “much of what I’m seeing is legal and standard in the industry.” Then ask yourself “should it be?” The answer, of course, is that it should not be legal. It just isn’t okay to treat living beings this way. Rather than endlessly trying to find ways to minimize cruelty, we should be promoting truly cruelty free alternatives such as the dozens of healthy, delicious plant-based milks on the market.