ABC News reports of alleged animal abuse at Wiese Brothers Farm south of Green Bay. The video shows employees hoisting downer cows, and in some cases, beating them in an attempt to get them to stand. The report can be read here.
The video was shot by a Mercy for Animals under-cover activist, who had applied for and received employment on the Wiese dairy. Sources tell Dairy Today the job applicant had numerous job references, but many turned out to be false.
The farm released the following statement: "On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, we became aware of video footage taken on our farm this fall. We are shocked and saddened to see a few of our employees not following our farm’s policies for proper animal care. We have zero tolerance for animal abuse. We are committed to providing optimal care and ask all our employees to demonstrate ongoing respect for every animal at all times."
The farm has terminated two employees who were involved in the incident, and a third has been re-assigned. Farm owners, Mark and David Wiese, note that all farm employees had reviewed and signed an animal treatment commitment pledge beginning in early 2012 as part of the hiring process and condition of employment. "We have updated that commitment and shared it with the employees who work in the special needs hospital area," say the Wieses.
The Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin also released the following statement:
As dairy farmers, we take our responsibility to provide the highest quality animal care very seriously. It is our moral and ethical obligation to do so. The well-being of our cows is of the highest priority.
We were saddened to learn of the possible mistreatment of animals on a Wisconsin dairy farm. The behaviors and actions of the farm employees in this video are not representative of how Wisconsin dairy farmers care for their animals every day. We are confident local investigators will examine all of the facts surrounding this incident and take the necessary steps to ensure this type of behavior is not repeated.
As Wisconsin dairy farmers, we:
Monitor and train everyone on our farms. It’s our responsibility for everyone on the farm to be trained on best practice animal care procedures. That includes monitoring anyone working on our farms, training and retraining when needed, and making sure everyone understands the farm’s policies on animal care for every stage of the animal’s life.
Partner with veterinarians. Veterinarians are an important partner and make regular farm visits. They provide guidance to ensure we are meeting or exceeding best-practice standards for all aspects of animal care including providing a nutritious diet, quality medical care and comfortable conditions to keep our cows healthy
Work with outside evaluators. The dairy industry is committed to continuous improvement. Many farms in Wisconsin and across the country have adopted the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) animal care program. FARM includes on-farm evaluations and is designed to promote the best practices in animal care.
Strive to be good neighbors. We consider ourselves privileged to be part of our communities and strive to add to the success of our neighborhoods by providing a safe place to work.