WATCH: Undercover footage shows calves kicked, punched and 'deprived of water' in Shropshire

A livestock centre has been criticised after undercover footage emerged showing young calves being punched, kicked and abused prior to slaughter.

Stills from underdcover footage filmed by the Animal Justice Project at Oaklands Livestock Centre in Shropshire
Stills from underdcover footage filmed by the Animal Justice Project at Oaklands Livestock Centre in Shropshire

The male calves, which have little commercial value, were collected from dairy farms in the Midlands and taken to Oaklands Livestock Centre, near Prees, where the images were filmed.

The Animal Justice Project, which filmed the footage, said the video shows the animals being beaten and, sometimes, deprived of food and water for long periods.

Some of the calves came from farms contracted to the dairy giant Müller.

Müller has since released a statement saying that it had instructed farmers to cease supplying the centre with immediate effect.

WATCH the undercover footage here:

Warning: Contains distressing footage

Dairy cows are routinely impregnated so they will give birth to calves and produce the milk which ends up on supermarket shelves.

In theory any resulting bull calves should be sold on to be reared as beef animals, however thousands are deemed unsuitable with the result they are killed at a young age.

The footage shows calves being thrown up and down trailer and truck ramps, lifted by their tails, kicked, kneed, punched, hit with sticks, dragged by their ears, jacket whipped, slapped and pushed.

The Animal Justice Project – a UK-based organisation campaigning to end the use and exploitation of animals on farms and in laboratories – says it captured the footage during an undercover investigation between November last year and March.

A still from underdcover footage filmed by the Animal Justice Project at Oaklands Livestock Centre in Shropshire

Animal Justice Project founder Claire Palmer said: “A staggering 65,000 bull calves under just a month old were slaughtered last year. While many retailers have policies in place prohibiting the shooting of calves, the ‘slaughter calves’ are clearly falling through gaps.”

She said the centre was caught on camera “brutally abusing calves and leaving them for many hours with no food or water.”

She added: "Ultimately, the solution to the bull calf problem in this country lies with the consumer and we urge them to ditch dairy today and choose instead compassionate plant-based alternatives now widely available on every high street."

Edie Bowles, Advocates for Animals solicitor, said: “The footage gathered by Animal Justice Project has called into question the compliance of several welfare laws that farmers are required to follow.

“It is essential these breaches are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken. The public needs to have confidence the laws passed to protect farmed animals do not exist on paper only.”

Some of the calves came from farms contracted to the dairy giant Müller.

A spokesperson for Müller Milk & Ingredients said it has instructed its dairy farmers to cease supplying calves to Oaklands with immediate effect.

A statement said: “It is important to stress that dairy farmers who supply Müller have welcomed measures we put in place to stop the practice of euthanising bull calves on farm.

"Our expectation is that bull calves which are sold for rearing are subject to welfare standards which are fully compliant with best practice. In light of this evidence of mistreatment, we have instructed farmers to cease supplying Oaklands Livestock Centre with immediate effect.”

The director of the Oaklands Livestock Centre is listed on Companies House as Derek Whittall, who was unavailable for comment.

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