Farm workers in cow abuse case are charged with animal cruelty

Last modified: Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Four dairy farm workers in Wisconsin have been charged with animal cruelty after an animal rights group said employees at the former Nestle pizza division dairy supplier had abused its cows.

The charges, 11 in total, were filed in Brown County, Wis., circuit court Tuesday.

In December, animal rights group Mercy for Animals revealed with undercover video footage that some employees at Wiese Brothers’ Farm in Greenleaf, Wis., had beaten, stabbed and dragged dairy cows at the farm. Nestle’s Northbrook, Ill.-based pizza division, which makes DiGiorno and Jack’s frozen pizzas, had used the Wiese farm as a supplier before the abuse was revealed. The company immediately cut ties, saying the company was “outraged and deeply saddened by the mistreatment of animals shown in this video.”

Mercy for Animals’ general counsel Vandhana Bala said at a news conference in December that farmhands took calves away from their mothers right after birth and dragged cows that could not walk with a tractor.

The employee who secretly took video for Mercy for Animals worked at the Wisconsin farm from Oct. 4 to Nov. 15. Wisconsin law doesn’t require two-party consent when recording.

Mercy for Animals has been conducting similar investigations for eight years, including six other dairy farms that showed similar abuse. Wiese, which has 4,500 cows that produce about 350,000 pounds of milk daily, was chosen at random to investigate, Bala said.

The group notified law enforcement following the investigation.

“(Mercy For Animals) praises the Brown County Sheriff’s Department and district attorney’s office for taking swift and decisive action in pursuing justice for these abused and exploited animals,” the group said in a release.