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Criminal charges sought by Animal Equality for lamb cruelty

During an inspection of a lamb slaughterhouse, one USDA veterinarian witnessed a lamb who was ineffectively stunned three times before slaughter. Now, animal advocates are requesting criminal charges against the corporation and its supervisor.
January 24, 2024 Updated: February 1, 2024
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Animal Equality–in collaboration with Animal Partisan and a local Colorado attorney–has requested criminal charges against Colorado Lamb Processors and one of its supervisors.

On March 28, 2023, a USDA Public Health Veterinarian inspected a Colorado Lamb Processors facility in Brush, Colorado. The USDA representative found a conscious lamb on a conveyor belt bound for slaughter. The lamb had been ineffectively stunned. 

This photo represents lamb slaughter and was not taken at a facility related to this case

The USDA representative urged employees to contact a supervisor, who attempted to stun the lamb with a back-up device known as a hand-held captive bolt gun. Still, the lamb remained conscious, moving their head around quickly and bleeding out of their nose. 

The supervisor attempted to stun the lamb a third time, still failing to render the lamb unconscious. Finally, the Slaughter Floor manager successfully stunned the lamb on the fourth attempt. 

This photo represents lamb slaughter and was not taken at a facility related to this case

Despite the USDA’s acknowledgment that there were several violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Regulations, critics note that very little disciplinary action was taken for the animal cruelty that occurred. Now, a coalition of animal advocates and legal counsel are asking the District Attorney to hold Colorado Lamb Processors responsible.

USDA fails to hold corporations accountable

Following the report, the USDA noted that Colorado Lamb Processors had violated federal regulatory requirements by failing to stun the lamb. The facility was issued a Notice of Intended Enforcement. 

Colorado Lamb Processors submitted a “plan of action” to ensure the proper stunning of animals moving forward. However, nine months later, a nearly identical situation involving the improper stunning of a lamb was reported. Again, Colorado Lamb Processors was allowed to resume business only days after the incident without any consequences.

The complaint asserts that both Colorado Lamb Processors and the supervisor involved in the incident violated Colorado’s animal cruelty statute, which punishes any person, including corporations and limited liability companies, for mistreating an animal. The misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to 364 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

Animal cruelty: An industry-wide issue

Throughout its global investigations into the factory farming industry, Animal Equality has consistently found ineffective stunning before slaughter. Investigators have discovered a lamb’s head being torn from their body, chickens’ throats being slit, pigs being hoisted into scalding water, and cows being skinned–all while fully conscious. 

This photo represents lamb slaughter and was not taken at a facility related to this case

Even more dire, USDA regulation of United States slaughterhouses has faced scrutiny for its inconsistency. When violations of state animal cruelty laws are found to have occurred at these facilities, corporations and employees are rarely held accountable. 

For that reason, Animal Equality has launched a petition against factory farming in the United States. Hundreds of thousands have taken action for lambs, pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals by lending their voices. 

You can end this cruelty! Please sign our petition calling for the end of factory farming in the United States.

Others have taken action at their own dinner tables, taking animals off their plates and, by extension, off the conveyor belt. By choosing plant-based proteins, you can prevent animals from an industry that profits from speed and profit over compassion and values. 

Discover beginner-friendly resources and join a global community of advocates by subscribing to Love Veg today. 

Animal Equality activist with a lamb rescued from a factory farm


Lambs’ rich emotional lives allow them to build friendships and recognize facial expressions.

Protect these intuitive animals by choosing plant‑based meat alternatives.

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