calf on ground just born calf on ground just born

Cold Truth about Dairy: Calves Frozen, Punched, and Stuffed

As the holidays approach, Animal Equality’s UK Executive Director recalls previous dairy industry investigations in the US, UK, and India. Discover the cruel truth about the global dairy industry, from calves stuffed with hay to workers punching newborns.

This is a bit of a personal one…

For you and me, the holidays are about being with those we love.

But as I gather with my family, protected from the bitter cold outside, I start to think of all the animals who aren’t so fortunate. 

I shiver, and it’s not from the cold. 

I am haunted by memories of three Animal Equality investigations.

The first memory took place at an ‘organic’ dairy farm in the UK. This farm advertises its products as ‘finest quality ethical and sustainable dairy.’

These claims couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

Our footage showed workers punching tiny calves and kicking cows in the face. Newborn calves struggled as workers violently shoved tubes down their throats to force-feed them. One little calf was slapped in the face while being force-fed as her mother looked on helplessly. 

Baby cow separated from mother
Cows following a young calf who is being taken away from their mother, on Madox Farm, South Wales

The Soil Association–a charity committed to allegedly ‘humane and sustainable foods’–investigated the farm and issued improvement requirements, but it did not suspend the farm. 

As I try to relax by the fire, I am visited by memories of a second case.

This time, it’s the chilling footage gathered during our US investigation at Summit Calf Ranch in Nebraska. This facility was connected to the producers of Babybel. Perhaps you’ve seen Babybel cheese wheels at your local grocery store. 

Our undercover footage exposed calves left to freeze in subzero temperatures. In some cases, the calves’ hooves had completely separated from their legs.

baby calf dead covered in snow
Calf frozen to death at Summit Calf Ranch

They died without their mothers, in agony. 

Noticing that I am preoccupied by these memories, my own mother puts her arm around me. This maternal bond triggers a third haunting memory.

This time, I am transported to India. Here, our Managing Director found the stuffed carcass of a dead calf left outside his mother’s pen. 

You see, cows produce milk for their babies after giving birth. This farmer proudly explained that he was trying to trick the mourning mother into producing more milk.

a farmer is kneeling down next to adult cow with dead baby calf stuffed with hay
Mother calf stands next to lifeless calf on India dairy farm

She saw her calf turned into a lifeless puppet, the workers mocking her suffering.

Cows are sensitive animals with distinct personalities and the ability to feel pain. But at the hands of the dairy industry, they suffer in ways we can barely imagine.

With chocolate, eggnog, and cheeses on many family tables during the holidays, these three ghosts often visit me. 

I know the heavy price animals pay during this time of year. And I know that cows will be separated from their families as I gather with mine. 

But there is something you can do right now to protect animals this season:

Spain Pig Farm


Help fund Animal Equality’s work to expose and end animal cruelty. Protect cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals today!

Meanwhile, you can join us in replacing dairy products with plant-based alternatives. Oat, soy, cashew, almond, rice, and hemp milks are just some of the options you can find at your nearest grocery store. While you’re at it, grab a bag of delicious cashew cheese, too! 

Calf in a dairy farm


 A cow’s maternal instincts foster a gentle bond with her vulnerable calf.

Preserve this tender relationship by choosing plant‑based alternatives to dairy products.

Don’t forget animals during the holiday season…because there is still hope for Christmases of the future. 

What will you give the animals this year?

With love and warmth,


Abigail Penny