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VDL Animal Cruelty Claims Require Strong Action

31 Jul 2019

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader and Animal Welfare spokesperson

Persistent allegations of cruelty and neglect at VDL dairies demand an urgent, sustained response from Biosecurity Tasmania. Yet in Parliament today, the Minister responsible for animal welfare refused to commit to unannounced visits to each of VDL’s multiple farms in the North West.

Right to Information documents obtained by the Greens confirm multiple, separate reports of animal cruelty and neglect at VDL, including claims of eye gouging of cows, routine breaking of tails, injections with illegal substances to induce birth, calves being killed with claw hammers or left to starve to death, cows shot then being picked up with pitch forks while still kicking.* 

These allegations are provided at a level of granular detail that should raise alarm bells with the Minister and Biosecurity Tasmania.

In June this year, 20 senior VDL staff wrote to the dairy’s owner requesting indemnity from prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 1993.  This too, should have set off alarm bells in government.

Following the Greens’ question in Parliament yesterday, a former VDL worker contacted us to provide further detailed allegations of cruelty.

This whistle-blower alleges he witnessed cows tails being broken as a matter of routine, watched as hoses were shoved inside cows that have just given birth to fill their uteruses with water or air, seen calves starve to death, and hundreds of bull calves needlessly shot because they’re too small.

It is simply not good enough for Biosecurity Tasmania inspectors to accept the assurances of farm managers when, for example, they claimed broken tails came from previous owners, or that calves reported to be sleeping on gravel were provided with bedding.

Nor is it good enough for the Minister to say he takes the allegations seriously but not commit to unannounced visits to every one of VDL’s dairies.

The Greens will continue to pursue this matter and we believe there is strong public support for a more effective, sustained response from government to these shocking but credible allegations of animal cruelty and neglect at Australia’s biggest dairy.   

* Right to Information documents are attached.