With a healthy, organic image, cheese and milk from British goat farms have become popular items on our shopping lists.

Now scenes we might imagine of free-range herds grazing on lush fields have been rocked by claims of animal cruelty.

Undercover filming at two of the largest goat farms by animal campaigners Viva, shows images of kid goats having the tips or buds of their horns burned off with a metal tool. The painful procedure stops horns growing, so avoiding injury during clashes in adulthood.

But animal welfare rules state this should be done by vets under anaesthetic.

One of the farms, Upper Enson Farm at Sandon, Staffordshire, which has around 2,000 goats, does not take these safeguards. The farmer said he did not have the cash to use vets because the goat industry was ‘on its knees’.

The farm supplies a dairy which sells products in major supermarkets including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Co-op.

Footage from the farm also showed the carcasses of dead nanny and kid goats. The farmer later admitted the farm had suffered an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis, which can kill younger goats.

Viva warns that cramped conditions can encourage diseases to spread.

Filming at another business, Bromes Farm, near Taunton in Somerset, which supplies Tesco among other retailers, revealed some conditions in which the animals are not free to go out into the fields.

Ranks of goats were also shown connected to milking machines at the farm. Viva condemns industrial-style milking parlours, which can cause the goats to suffer from sore udders because of the high quantities of milk produced.

Bromes Farm did not respond to requests for comment.

Viva said the raising of goats increasingly involved factory farming techniques. Director Juliet Gellatley said: ‘Ethically minded consumers who have been shocked by increasingly intensive methods of production in the dairy cow industry have been switching to goats’ milk under the mistaken belief that it is more humane.’

Nick Brandon, owner of Upper Enson Farm, admitted he was operating outside the rules on removing or disbudding horns. He said: ‘The disbudding is not quite as it should be and we are consulting with our vet to decide how to move forward.’

Asked why he has not used a vet, he said: ‘It is not economical for the number of goats we have got.

‘The industry is on its knees. Goats’ milk and cheese is becoming more popular, but the price people pay in the shops is not filtering back to farmers.’

He added: ‘Our milking goats and older youngstock graze outside for eight to nine months of the year and have access to their shed in rain.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2160065/The-cruel-goat-farms-Activists-claim-animals-mistreated-demand-milk-cheese-grows.html#ixzz1xyG206QG

 

Published on 15 Jun 2012 by 

Think today’s dairy goat farming is benign and mostly small-scale? Think again. Watch our film to find out more.

Through a series of ground-breaking undercover investigations Viva! has shone a light on the rapidly expanding goat’s dairy industry in the UK — including farms that supply the UK’s biggest supermarkets.

Behind the pastoral image often portrayed our exposé has found potentially illegal and other routine mutilation of baby animals, disease outbreaks, piles of dead carcasses, intensified zero-grazing farming practices and Billy goats increasingly sold for the ethnic food market. It is this intensification that has allowed the industry to surpass the production of 2 million litres a year in Britain for the first time.

In May 2012, we filmed undercover at Upper Enson Farm (Britain’s largest grazing goat herd) in Staffordshire, who milk around 1,800 goats for Delamere Dairies — who supply M&S, Waitrose, The Co-op, Sainsbury’s and a number of other major UK retailers. In September/October 2011, we also filmed at Bromes Farm in Somerset, which farms around 1,200 zero-grazed goats and supplies Tesco.

For more information and free advice on how to go dairy-free, visithttp://www.milkmyths.org.uk/goats