Italy: New investigation on dairy farm producing Grana Padano cheese: “calves in unacceptable conditions, regulatory revision required”.

Photo – Essere Animali.

New investigation on dairy farm producing Grana Padano cheese: “calves in unacceptable conditions, regulatory revision required”.

13 July 2021

Press Release

New investigation by Essere Animali on a dairy farm producing milk for Grana Padano. The footage documents the treatment of calves, separated from their mothers at birth, isolated in small pens and brutally treated by farm workers.

The organisation Essere Animali today released a new video investigation documenting the conditions of calves on a dairy farm located in Lombardy, in the province of Bergamo.

The farm under investigation is a producer of Grana Padano cheese, the most widely consumed P.D.O. cheese in the world, with the cheese plant located next to the barns which house 2,700 animals, including cows and bulls, as well as some 300 calves.

The investigation documents the first weeks of the calves’ lives, from their birth to their confinement in small pens, casting a dark shadow over the conditions in which they are kept on dairy farms.
The undercover investigation released by Essere Animali shows:

  • Calves being separated from their mother
  • Insults aimed at male calves
  • Housing in individual pens
  • Feeding of the calves, deprived of their mother’s milk
  • Rough behaviour by workers and alleged irregularities

For the production of milk, even that intended for products of “Italian excellence” such as Grana Padano, calves are raised in conditions of social deprivation and are subjected to stress and suffering. Change is possible, also in view of the growing number of European citizens demanding higher welfare standards for farm animals. For this reason, together with 77 NGOs all over the world, we are urging the European Commission to undertake a complete revision of the legislation on the protection of farm animals.

Simone Montuschi, President, Essere Animali

By disseminating this investigation, Essere Animali is relaunching the No Animal Left Behind campaign, coordinated by Eurogroup For Animals, an organisation that brings together 77 NGOs for animal protection in 27 EU Member States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia and the United States.

The organisations are calling on the European Commission, committed with the Farm to Fork strategy to make the European food system fairer, healthier and more environmentally friendly, to revise the legislation on the protection of farm animals, which is currently considered seriously inadequate to guarantee them a life free from unnecessary suffering.

One of the demands made to the Commission isthe application of farming conditions that would allow all farmed species to express their natural behaviours, including the intake of real food.

With regard to the conditions in which calves are reared, Essere Animali and Eurogroup for Animals are calling for a revision of EU animal welfare laws in order to:

  • Allow contact between the calves and their mothers for at least the first eight weeks of age, during which the animals must be kept in a half-day  contact system – at least – with suckling permitted.
  • Provide housing conditions and a diet that meet the behavioural and physiological needs of calves, who should be raised in groups with appropriate spaces and have access to outdoor areas.

This hard-hitting investigation provides a harsh wake-up call regarding the conditions in which calves are reared on dairy farms. However, we have a unique opportunity: by September, we can convince the European Commission to undertake a complete revision of the legislation on the protection of farm animals, and provide much better protection to calves and other species. It is incredible that the current legislation still permits the isolation and confinement of newly born animals: these are cruel and avoidable practices. We are asking for truly higher welfare standards which leave no animal behind.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals


Regards Mark




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