Animal rights organization releases video of ‘sadistic’ dairy farm abuse

UPDATE: Ohio farm animal abuser arrested, arraignment set for Thursday

WOOSTER, Ohio — Dairy farmers across the state are quickly condemning what could be one of the most graphic and severe cases of animal cruelty to ever be documented on film.

An undercover video shot by the animal welfare group Mercy For Animals was released to media just days ago, showing dairy cows being struck over the head with a crowbar, some being poked with a pitch fork and calves held to the ground and punched.

The Ohio Dairy Producers Association — an associate member of National Milk Producer’s Federation, expressed frustration and outrage to the actions.

“As representatives of Ohio’s dairy farm community, we take this situation very seriously, and we absolutely condemn the mistreatment of animals that took place on this farm,” said Jenny Hubble, vice president of communications. “We support a thorough and swift investigation of this matter with appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken.”

The farm

The alleged abuse was recorded at Conklin Dairy Farms Inc, from Plain City.

It is unclear what disciplinary action the farm or its worker who performed the abuse may face. A phone call was made to Gary Conklin’s home Wednesday morning, with no answer and no answering service.

However, a statement from the farm was released to media late Tuesday night.

As reported by the Associated Press, Conklin Dairy Farms is a fourth-generation family operation and takes the care of its cows and calves very seriously.

“The video shows animal care that is clearly inconsistent with the high standards we set for our farm and its workers, and we find the specific mistreatment shown on the video to be reprehensible and unacceptable,” Gary Conklin, of Conklin Dairy Cattle Sales LLC, said Tuesday night in an e-mailed statement. “We will not condone animal abuse on our farm.”

The company said it would interview its farm workers and anyone found to have willfully abused the cows or calves would be fired.

“That is not a representation of the industry,” said Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Mike Bumgarner, who called the actions “deplorable” and said “we’re disgusted with the video and condemn the actions that are in there.”

MFA goes public

But a growing concern is why Mercy For Animals waited nearly a month to release its findings. The organization held news releases Wednesday in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton.

Nathan Runkle, who founded MFA in 1999, said information was withheld for several reasons. For one, there were reports the employees at the farm owned firearms and felt intimidated.

Additionally, Runkle said MFA was not sure how local law inforcement would receive their investigation, and whether its disclosure would bring the investigation to a halt.

“Not knowing who was in law enforcement, not knowing the situation in Union County,” MFA kept quiet, he said.

Runkle said MFA spent four weeks investigating the farm, “enough time to document the cruelty and that it was an ongoing pattern of abuse, and that the owner had knowledge.”

Farm and Dairy has not yet reached the owner of the farm, but no record has been provided that he knew of the abuse. Some news reports are now reporting he fired one employee this morning.

Standards in Ohio

Bumgarner indicated he was not familiar with MFA’s timeline, but addressed the matter of making reports in an “immediate” manner.

“Abuses to animals should not be tolerated and should be reported immediately,” he said. “To sit back and wait trying to promote another agenda, I guess I have a hard time trying to understand the mindset.”

The video was released at a time when Ohio is forming standards for livestock care and treatment. The newly created Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board held a public comment session in Guernsey County, the same night this video hit media.

MFA’s solution — revealed at the end of their undercover video — is to “ditch dairy” and adopt a vegan diet.

Bumgarner’s solution is for justice to be served to the man committing the abuse.

“(He’s) an individual who should be dealt with, and likely will be dealt with, with the animal cruelty laws we have on the books,” Bumgarner said.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

27 Comments

  1. Jan says:

    Those appearing in this video need to be publicly identified and never, ever work on a livestock farm again. I am also appalled that these things seem to ‘happen’ where activists are politically involved and if it was staged to get the footage I think there needs to be additional punishment given. No one doing the things that appear on this video and ‘posing’ for it should ever be around animals again. Their names need to be public.

  2. Victoria says:

    Yes these actions are unacceptable. But it seems thst animals rights groups always only show the abuse of animals and not the ones that are well cared for and treated correctly. The ultimate goal of thses groups is no animals owned for any reason. They (the ARAs) have deep pockets and will not stop until their goals are met.
    I pray that the American Farmer is not a dying breed. There are far more farmers who care for their animals than the ones shown on this video.

  3. Ohio Dairy Farmer says:

    As an Ohio dairy farmer, I can assure you that this type of behavior repulses people involved in agriculture. The actions shown by the employee were wrong, and they are not typical of dairy farmers. We care for our animals, because it’s the right thing to do. Please follow Dial Dairy on Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger to learn more about our farm. There are also wonderful videos available at http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org that show the positive things happening on American farms.

  4. Tim S. says:

    Regardless of who coordinated the undercover investigation, these actions appear to be in direct violation of ohio’s animal cruelty laws. Consumers of Conklin’s products should start looking elsewhere – that’s the best way to deal with those who can’t/won’t follow the rules. Hit them hard in the pocketbook! What concerns me most is whether any of the abusers are also initiating acts of aggression towards people.

  5. Jessica says:

    It is quite sad that the one ‘gentleman’ mostly featured in the video is being used to represent the industry. He needs some sort of psychological evaluation. His “problem” should not be a representation of the industry. Disgusting and deceitful!

  6. Anne says:

    What disgusting excuse for a human being get pleasure from kicking a helpless calf in the head. I watched less than 30 seconds of this moronic individual before I had to clear the screen in tears. I hope this vicious sadistic creep is not typical of the type of people who work on dairy farms in Ohio. If there is anyway to identify who buys milk from the particular farm I will boycott the products.

  7. Chris Kick says:

    Anne,

    Thank you for your comments and question about Ohio dairy farms.

    All the dairy and farm groups I have spoken with said this is “not” typical of Ohio dairies, and no one condones it.

    However, some activist groups are presenting it as though it’s typical, to make a statement against the whole industry. Check back for more coverage.

  8. I AM SO UPSET OVER THIS VIDEO..AND I TRULY FEEL THESE MEN NEED TO BE SENT TO PRISON FOR A LONG TIME…I ALSO FEEL THAT THE OWNER KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON AND DID NOT STOP THE ABUSE,CRUELTY AND TORTURE OF HIS ANIMALS AND I FEEL HE NEEDS TO PAY FOR THIS CRIME…IF THESE MEN COULD DO THIS TO A HELPLESS INNOCENT COW, THAN WHAT COULD AND WOULD THEY DO TO A CHILD,A WOMAN OR EVEN THE ELDERLY..THIS CRIME IS SO WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS,AND THEY NEED TO BE SENT TO PRISON..PLEASE KEEP US INFORMED WHAT HAPPENS…

  9. farmer fan says:

    The most disgusting part of this incident is that it went on for so long. I don’t think anyone has enough information to point blame at anyone except those responsible for allowing the abuse to continue.

    Boycotting dairy products will do nothing positive – it would make it harder for dairy farms to stay in business. They have enough problems with milk prices being so low and operating costs sky-high. Dairy farmers work hard to keep cows healthy and comfortable. There is nothing to gain from abusing cows.

    I hope everyone will continue to watch and keep an open mind about this and remember that 1) the people responsible for the abuse are the most at fault, and 2) animal rights groups go extreme measures, even at the expense of animals, to promote their agenda.

  10. serena says:

    Unfortunately, this seems to be very common practice. The group that released this video has many more like it, and so do many other web sites. You don’t know what happened at the other end of your purchase of milk unless you are milking the cow yourself. Of course there is violence in an industry built around exploitation, mutilation, and murder.

  11. Garry F says:

    I too could only watch less than a minute before I became ill and had to turn my computer off. This was really brutal. We as a society (and I mean ALL of us) create people like this. I’m sure alcohol consumption, drugs, parental abuse etc are involved. I pray for healing to the unfortunate animals who find themselves in this situation.

  12. Pat M says:

    I agree with both Tim S and Jessica completely. I wonder if this person also abuses humans in his life. I am curious though how the dairy farm owner isn’t aware of what is going on. Is there some kind of staff or cow managaer that is responsible for checking out the health of the cows on a regular basis, like daily? How could one explain all the results of the torture that this man inflicted on the cows? I don’t think we need to put farmers out of business. The cows would suffer more if they had no home and care. Did anyone consider that? Realistically we need them and they need us.

  13. Tim S. says:

    Since 1995, Conklin Dairy Farms has received almost $36,000 in federal farm subsidies, according to a database of farm subsidies maintained by the Environmental Working Group. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave Conklin Farms almost $12,000.

  14. maggie b says:

    Perhaps women should be hired to care for the cattle. Women are not strong so they use methods that persuade rather than dominate. Women nurture as a rule. The people in this film have no investment in the animals they are abusing. If they harm them it doesn’t affect them personally except as a sick thrill. I’m grateful they were caught and will be punished. I feel that the group that discovered this waited too long to blow the whistle. How many could have been spared this abuse if they had come forward immediately. This is the exception rather than the norm. Most farmers are good stewards of their animals. It is good business.

  15. maggie b says:

    Serena, how is it that the group that found this abuse “has many more like it” and haven’t come forward? That makes them co-abusers. I’m not going to villify all farmers because one failed in their responsibilities.

  16. Anonymous says:

    With respect to the $36,000 in farm subsidies, I saw the same thing in an Associated Press report.

    But same database shows the top 20 farmers in Union County each received more than $700,000 for same period. So, while 36,0000 is still $36,000, it’s much less than other farms in that county.

  17. Young Cattle Producer says:

    I am a 20 year old senior in college who is majoring in Animal Science. I am disgusted by what I saw in the Mercy for Animals video. I am outraged and angry that this happened, and that this video is being viewed as the norm by some consumers. It is not.
    I grew up showing steers at the county fair for 4H projects. I currently raise cattle while I’m still in college. This is not how I, or anyone I personally know in the industry, treat cattle.
    I have learned the value of sweat and hard work from cattle. I have learned to love the exhuastion I feel at the end of a long day in the barn. I have learned how pride feels, when all my hard work earns me a ribbon at a cattle show. I have learned how to safely handle and care for cattle. I have also learned that I want my children to learn these same lessons that I have.
    I did not learn how to beat, bruise or torture an animal. I did not learn how to mistreat or disrepect the life of an animal. I did not learn how to be a cruel, unforgiving, monster of a person.
    Do not let this example be your only example of farmers in Ohio.

  18. Farmer Jane says:

    I have owned, raised and shown farm animals for the better part of my life and I am now currently finishing my college career as an Animal Science student. As a kid I was involved in 4-H and was taught by many farmers, as I worked with them while working with my animals, about how to care for the animals properly, how to treat them, as well as work with them to get the task you wish to accomplish, accomplished. Also there are programs set up by several industry related organizations such as the Beef Quality Assurance Program, Pork Quality Assurance and also Dairy Animal Care that highlight the best management and handling practices for farmers and their animals. Abuse by no means is an effective way to do anything when it comes to animals and abusive treatment is not the case on farms across the country that produce the food America needs to fuel our daily activities. Less than 2% of the population supplies the entire country with the food we consume every day. These 2% care about their task of providing the US with safe, wholesome, nutritious food and yes, I said the word cares because farming is a not an easy task and requires early mornings, long hard days, and often times very late nights. Farmers farm because they love it, not to get rich or to promote themselves in any way shape or form and it is known that abuse is by no means a way of being a successful farmer. I encourage you to do some looking there are many blogs and facebook pages out that chronicle life on farms across the United States here is an example from Ohio and she address some of the issues everyone is concerned with visit http://causematters.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/dark-secrets-of-farms/.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is fake, the people abusing the animals were paid by the “animal rights activists” to do this and document it “undercover”. I can’t believe that some people would stoop so low…

  20. char says:

    im a small famer, and i would never treat animal in the maner they showed. but i have seen animals in some pretty ruff feilds, where the ground is bear,rusty mich.are out in the field,bobwire just laying around.i do think there should be inspections done on farms, to make shore theres nothing going on,and to keep pastures salf. its not hard to keep them clean.conklin needs to loss that farm,he know, he watch while it was going on.i only hope he losses something in the end, just like the cows.

  21. David Pavlak says:

    Anonymous @ 9:12pm

    “This is fake”? Do you have proof? Perhaps you should present your evidence to the authorities….

  22. Dog Psych says:

    In all of the implications that MFA was some how at fault for the abuse that occurred in between their discovery and turning over of the tape, not a single agri-bizzer has given any possible explanation for their insinuations. Why would an animal welfare organization, apparently feared by many in agri-biz and puppymilldom, want to prolong abuse? What would be the motive? The explanations for the brief delay sound logical, reasonable, and well-founded, so it seems that question should be closed. Thank you, Mr. Kick, for putting that accusation to rest.

    Rather than defend the abuse, which they cannot, Conklin’s supporters natrually try to shift the focus away from Conklin. That’s how they operate, and that gives credence to MFA’s caution in the timing of the release of the video.

  23. 4Truth,Justice,Etc. says:

    Good point David Pavlak. Where is the evidence? MFA provided evidence. Where are your witnesses? Where are your statements?

  24. 4Truth,Justice,Etc. says:

    Can anyone tell me, is the CEO of Monsanto a “farmer”? What about the head of Tyson? Perdue? IPB? Do you have to know what to do with an udder to be a “farmer”?

    Someone mentioned that they hope the farmer is not a dying breed. I think your concern is a bit too late. Corporate America now owns the American farmer.

    Those of you who wonder why an animal welfare activist group would “show up” where abuse is occuring apparently have only one oar to row with. Why do you suppose those pesky cops keep showing up where crime happens? Just curious, I guess, huh? Geesh! Can we please move the discussion to another level?

    (I realize this is a Chris Kick article, so maybe I am expecting too much from his usual readers. His writing is amateurish and slanted toward agri-biz. Yes, Mr. Kick, animal welfare activists are well aware that, while smaller and organic farmers often care well for their animals, the profit-seeking capitalists heading Monsanto, Perdue, IPB, and Tyson ARE NOT FARMERS, BUT THEY ARE IN CHARGE OF MILLIONS OF ANIMALS. They, and many of their employees, make Conklin look entirely innocent. Do some research. Your writing is appalling.)

    Farmer Jane: Interesting comments. I do wonder about the organizations you mentioned and who funds them. Do you know? The money trail always leads to those in control, and their agendas tell you what the organization really accomplishes (or doesn’t).

    The Ohio Livestock Care and Standards Board is a perfect example, a political tool designed to protect Monsanto, et. al., from the agenda of those of us who find the torture, abuse, and neglect of any animal unacceptable.

    The dividing line is not really between animal welfare activists and farmers, a picture this article’s author has falsely presented as factual. Rather, it is between $$$ and humans with ethics. The second group includes farmers, but, as I have already stated, agri-biz is not “farmers”, it is giant, capitalistic, corporate interest in profit. With their power and wealth, agri-biz has purchased most farmers, so that there really are only a handful left who do not work for “the man”.

    (Kick will not touch these comments with anything but his usual, simplistic response, pointing fingers of blame and painting a childish depiction of the complex issues involved in protecting our food and animals from the owners of agri-biz. He is incapable of discussing anything beyond the surface.)

    One very interesting, but equally disturbing observation is the careful language small farmers use to avoid publicly criticizing the big guns of agri-biz. The fear factor depicted in Food, Inc. is real. Check it out sometime. Ask a farmer, in public, a question about Monsanto, and they clam up quick.

  25. Jay says:

    This is a bad deal ppl. He got off – no charges. This sick puke of a p o s needs to be done the way he did these mamas & babies period. There r zero excuses or explainations for this very disturbing cruel behaviour end of story – NEVER allowed to own animals nor make penny to feed himself or his working with them…the owner was in a stall in 1 part of the taped sicking behaviour & absolute animal cruelty in a stall with a cow himself. Cowards – a bunch of yellow bellys who need to be learned a few things about R E S P E C T very seriously. What happens to animals for ppl by ppl is just pathetic > shut er down! from beef-chicken-goat-horse-lamb-A-Z shut er down – hell they poison us with the chemicals anyways, they can’t keep the animals from suffering, cruelty & pain then that’s it – DO SOMETHING GOV’T!

  26. OnMyOwn says:

    Just like millions of others wittnessing this video on the news last night, these images will never leave my mind. I have pets and have had horses. I would never ever think of abusing animals this way so I find it hard to think that a person could do such a thing.

    Unfortunately, the abuse is not just committed by men. The video that was pulled from YouTube showing a young girl grabbing newborn puppies out of a bucket and tossing them into a river like rocks shows that it goes both ways.
    To the person that says this is a fake and that the people were just actors…maybe you were one of them from this farm. I would find it hard to believe the a group that watches for abuse would do this, yet there are crooked groups around. As far as the group only showing mistreatment, that is their purpose: to expose mistreated animals. That does not necessarily mean that they are trying to end all farming. The reality is that we need animals for food. This does not mean that the animal that is eventually going to be slaughtered should live a miserable life.

    Unfortunately, no one is going to stop eating meat in order to save animals. The Pollyanna thought of not eating veal or any other meat anymore is unrealistic. This would mean we all should become vegetarians.

    I think that there needs to be more monitoring of farms that raise animals. Hiring people would bring more jobs to Ohio, but it would also protect the animals. There are social workers for families and health inspectors for restaurants. Problem is, trying to keep these inspectors from lining their pockets and letting things go by the wayside would be a challenge in itself.

    The fact that there are humans like this makes me ill…..

  27. BovinesRAmazing says:

    If you can, watch the video again. Look carefully at the cows. Other than the abuse that is activley occuring, the cows look like they are in excellant condition. All of them look healthy, alert and no serious signs of illness.

    As for the production of the video, the animals are assets to the farmer. Why would he want to damage them in any way, shape or form? The ‘animal activists’ on the other hand have no investment in the animals. So they have more motive to abuse the animals than the owners.

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