An investigation into a farm linked to the deputy president of the National Farmers Union has exposed shocking cases of animal abuse.
Hidden cameras at the farm in St Osyth, near Clacton, Essex, which Guy Smith is director, revealed cows were kicked, punched and hit with sticks by staff.
Images also revealed dead young calves were left to rot outside, while investigators said employees sexually assaulted dairy cows.
The investigation was launched after a member of the public noticed a dead cow outside the building.
“Some of the most disturbing footage shows one worker touching two cows in intimate areas on two different occasions,” the investigator told The Independent.
“The worker appears to be moving his hand up and down in a way that would suggest masturbation.”
The investigation at the dairy farm also accused workers of ‘excessive tail twisting’ – which can cause pain and distress to cows.
Mr Smith said in a statement that he was not involved in the running of the dairy side of the farm and did not gain financially from it.
The farm said the workers faced disciplinary action following the footage.
Investigators placed hidden cameras in the farm and sent evidence to animal welfare group Surge.
Prominent activist Ed Winters, known as Earthling Ed, leads Surge’s campaign to #dismantledairy.
He said: “Guy Smith travels and gives talks about animal welfare, whilst on his farm animals are being touched in intimate areas in a non-legal manner, punched, trapped in solitary confinement pens and verbally abused.
“This farm was just one of eight UK dairy farms featured in our larger Dismantle Dairy campaign, and on all eight dairy farms we found suffering and abuse that is hidden from the public.”
Mr Smith responded to the accusations in a statement to The Independent.
“I am aware there are allegations, relating to the treatment of dairy cows, made against employees of a company of which I am one of six directors.
“The allegations stem from illegally obtained video footage.
“I wish to make clear that I am not responsible in any way for the dairy side of the business and derive no financial benefit from it. In particular, I have no responsibility for the recruitment or training of staff and nor do I have any input into the manner in which that side of the business is run.”
“Animal welfare should be regarded as a priority and I have no doubt that those responsible for the dairy side of the business will immediately take all necessary steps so as to ensure the highest animal welfare standards are maintained going forwards.”
A spokesperson for the dairy division of Mr Smith’s farm said: “The welfare of our dairy herd is our number one priority. We aim to uphold the highest standards of animal welfare and care and insist on the same high standards from everyone who works with us.
“We have taken immediate action in relation to the incidents shown (including disciplinary action) and have implemented a comprehensive retraining programme in our determination to ensure that any shortcomings in our systems and practices are addressed.
“Trespassers entered our farm unlawfully and secretly filmed many hours of footage over a period of 18 months. We regard this as a gross breach of privacy – of family members, children and staff members – and absolutely condemn it.”
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