Major goat dairy brand exposed by Animal Justice Project! Shocking scenes featured in the Independent.
As consumers become more aware of the horrors facing cows and calves on dairy farms, a smaller, and lesser-known industry is marketing to those wanting to make kinder, more sustainable choices. Goat’s milk is increasingly promoted as a healthier, more ‘ethical’ option, but very few consumers are aware of what happens on goat farms.
Over a two-month period, we filmed inside Pasture House Farm, a 2,000 goat dairy, supplying milk to Delamere Dairy. This giant company produces over 40 million ‘award-winning’ products, supplying one-third of the UK’s goat’s milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter. Their farms are Red Tractor Assured and can be found in all of the major supermarkets: Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Tesco as well as exporting products globally.
Pasture House Farm, located in Skipton, North Yorkshire, is owned by Phil Ormerod, the Director for the Milking Goat Association; a body representing UK commercial goat farmers. Being sold as an ‘ethical’ alternative to cow dairy, Animal Justice Project has unveiled the truth behind Delamere’s claims and shown the heartache that nanny goats face on dairy farms as well as the cold-blooded Spring massacre of their kids.
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Surrounded by luscious green fields, goats at this intensive farm never get to be outdoors. It is a ZERO-GRAZING farm and the animals will spend their entire short lives inside barren, filthy sheds. Being able to see the outdoors, whilst trapped inside, must certainly cause psychological distress.
Naturally, goats are browsing animals, not grazers, and eat weeds and bushes. The feeding system on the farm, where goats have to graze from the ground, means that they cannot display their natural feeding behaviour, as well as being unable to climb and find safe spaces to feel secure.
The Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC) states that farmed animals should live a ‘life worth living’; a life indoors is not one that goats would choose or thrive in.
The goat dairy industry claims that goats need to be housed permanently inside for foot and leg health, yet our cameras revealed those same problems are rife in sheds. An indoor system is a breeding ground for bacteria which causes foot issues such as hoof infections, resulting in painful lameness, as their hooves soften without access to hard outdoor ground. A build up of worms is common in zero-grazing systems too, as goat faeces accumulate and farmers do not clean out the pens.
The combination of poor living conditions, mental health concerns and denial of basic natural behaviours nullifies Delamere’s claim that goats need to be permanently housed in zero-grazing systems.
“It’s the welfare of the goats, not the convenience of the farmer that has made the decision to keep the goats housed.”
Goats were viewed as milking machines for the sake of profits; they were milked twice a day in a large, automated parlour, which can milk 700 goats every hour.
The bodies of dairy goats become exhausted due to intensive selective breeding which results in large and sore udders, goats producing extremely high milk yields and unnaturally large pregnancies. Pregnant goats become immobile as they struggle to carry their immense weight. One heavily pregnant goat couldn’t stand up for over 28 hours, trapped by her own body weight.
|“There is an excessive number of lame goats in these videos. The associated pain and discomfort are an obvious cause of concern for the welfare of the animals. The high levels of lameness could be due to poor environment, poor management and inappropriate veterinary interventions.”
– Molly Vasanthakumar, Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery MRCVS
GOAT FARMING FACTS
DISTURBING INVESTIGATION FINDINGS
- Goats could see the outdoors yet remained confined indoors the entire time
- Painful lameness was commonplace
- Nanny goats suffered from ailments including overgrown hooves, painfully sore udders, large scabby areas on their skin and were severely lame
- The huge toll of pregnancy on the goats’ bodies resulted in lameness, stillborn kids and huge swollen udders
- Nannies who appeared emaciated were being milked
- Pregnant goats had to endure 24-hour lighting, affecting their rest
- There was a clear disregard for the wellbeing of the goats with workers pulling and dragging them by their heads, necks and tails
- Verbal and physical abuse from workers was caught on camera, highlighting a culture of violence
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Babies were torn from their mothers’ sides after just 24 hours. Mothers fought to get their kids back, searching and crying out. Their heartache was clear as they cried for many hours afterwards.
Consumer demand for goat dairy tears families apart.
“Female kids are not killed and are kept as replacements for their mothers” and “The majority of billy goats born on Delamere Dairy farms are now reared and sold for meat.”
Kid goats on dairies receive so little respect that the farmers who kill them don’t even need to count the bodies. The UK government holds no official statistics on the numbers either, but the Goat Veterinary Society (GVS) estimates that 25-50% are killed soon after birth. This is around 3,000 babies every year.
Animal Justice Project captured, for the first time in the UK, the Spring massacre of kids on a goat dairy farm.
Spring not only brings a season of new life on farms, but a time of mass killing. With many kids born during our investigation, we filmed both male and female kids being mercilessly killed. To make it worse, helpless nanny goats were just feet away as they watched kids being slaughtered before them.
The writhing bodies of the babies were thrown to the floor, bleeding out, as the pregnant nannies looked on, traumatised. Would their babies would be next? The bodies were added to dead piles, strewn across the farm, and left decomposing for as long as two weeks. One of the piles was on a public footpath, out in the open air and exposed to birds and other scavengers.
Over 100 dead goats were filmed decomposing across the farm during our investigation.
Kids who were not killed immediately were confined in barren pens. They screamed out in pain as workers punctured holes into their delicate ears for tags and later were subjected to ‘disbudding’, another painful mutilation involving the removal of their horn buds, usually with a hot cauterising iron. All for the convenience of the farmer.
With profit at the forefront, the dairy industry neglects the rights of goats. Goat’s milk or cheese will never be an ‘ethical’ option. As long as shoppers demand dairy products and the government subsidises these cruel industries, goats will be commodified for milk and their families will be torn apart.
By choosing plant-based, we can end the cold-blooded exploitation of goats and the Spring massacre of their kids.
Thank you for your ongoing support and kindness towards all animals.
For the animals.