The B.C. Milk Marketing Board has suspended milk pick-up from Chilliwack Cattle Sales after disturbing undercover video surfaced Monday showing workers physically abusing cows.
The operation, which describes itself as Canada's largest dairy farm, subsequently announced it was firing the eight employees involved.
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The undercover video from the non-profit group Mercy for Animals Canada — shot by an activist posing as an employee of the farm — showed dairy cows being whipped and beaten with chains and canes, as well as punched and kicked.
It showed cows suffering from open wounds and injuries, and being lifted by their necks with chains and tractors.
In a statement, the B.C. Milk Marketing Board says it remains deeply concerned about the abuse shown on the video.
"Based on the board's concern for the ethical treatment of animals, the board made the decision today to suspend milk pick-up from Chilliwack Cattle Sales, until it is satisfied that all of the animal welfare issues are being addressed appropriately," it said.
"The board has requested advice from veterinarians with respect to animal welfare and the Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle."
Mercy for Animals said earlier the company failed to provide adequate training or respond to the concerns raised by its undercover member before the video's release. It rejected claims by farm co-owner Jeff Kooyman that none of the owners knew about the abuse.
B.C. SPCA enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty said Chilliwack Cattle Sales has so far been cooperating with its investigation. The B.C. SPCA is recommending charges of animal cruelty against the eight employees.
The company supplies brands including Saputo and Dairyland.
Kooyman says his farm has zero tolerance for animal abuse and promised it would be installing cameras in the barns and retraining staff.
In 2008, Chilliwack Cattle Sales was cleared of charges relating to the transport of injured cows.