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Abattoir formally warned for mistreatment of dairy calves

Wed 6 Feb 2013 by Kathleen Tonini (Riverine Herald)

This article relates to the following facility: Riverside Meats Abattoir (Aussie Abattoirs)

An Echuca abattoir has been formally warned for mistreating dairy calves, after footage from inside the abattoir was provided to an animal advocacy group.

Video footage from Riverside Meats, aired on ABC’s Lateline on Friday, showed calves being prodded in the face with an electric prodder and hit and dragged along the ground before being forced into the slaughter chute. The footage was provided anonymously to Animals Australia.

Animals Australia lodged a formal complaint with PrimeSafe for breaches of the Australian standards governing welfare and practise at abattoirs and PrimeSafe ordered the practises cease immediately.

The Department of Primary Industries was also notified and investigated, issuing a warning.

Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes said Animals Australia was ‘‘incredibly disappointed’’ no charges were laid.

‘‘The community would find this treatment of any animal completely unacceptable, but for young, vulnerable dairy calves who have just been subjected to the stresses of transport, to be abused in this way is simply unforgivable,’’ she said.

‘‘We believe the routine and terrible nature of the cruelty inflicted on these young animals warranted prosecution.’’

PrimeSafe chief executive Brian Casey said last year PrimeSafe was notified by Animals Australia about breaches of standards at Riverside Meats and an investigation showed their claims were substantiated.

Mr Casey said Riverside was told to take ‘‘immediate corrective action’’ and a recent unannounced PrimeSafe visit showed those actions had been maintained.

‘‘This is an isolated case and it has been managed accordingly,’’ Mr Casey said.

According to Animals Australia, each year more than 700,000 ‘bobby calves’ (male calves) are slaughtered when they are as young as five days old. They are described as ‘‘waste products’’ of the dairy industry.

‘‘This is the third case of cruelty we have seen at domestic abattoirs in just 15 months and it further strengthens calls for mandatory CCTV cameras and a government vet on-site at all Australian abattoirs,’’ Ms Oogjes said.

‘‘This isn’t the first time we have seen dairy calves treated so cruelly at abattoirs and, sadly, it won’t be the last.’’

Riverside Meats were contacted for comment but did not reply before the Riv’s deadline.