Dairy Farming: The Sour Truth

Europe’s dairy sector enjoys a wholesome image, but an undercover investigation by Compassion in World Farming shows that many of Europe’s 23 million dairy cows are kept in appalling conditions.

1. Help us tell the world

Intensive dairy farming is becoming more common, and this trend will continue unless we can spread what we have found far and wide. Sadly, we know that many people have no idea what goes on inside these cow sheds. To try to get the message out we have made a special film, designed to be easy to share with your friends and family.

Please watch our short film and share it as widely as you can.

2. Take Action

View email

Please use the form below to send this email to the European Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis. We are calling for much needed legislation to guarantee minimum welfare standards for Europe’s dairy cows.

Your email will ask Commissioner Andriukaitis to view the full investigation video showing the reality of EU dairy farming. You can watch this film and read more about the investigation here.

UPDATE: The European Commission has asked us to place their reply to our supporters’ emails on our website. You can read it here. We are disappointed that the Commission refuses to propose a Directive on the welfare of dairy cows despite the strong evidence we’ve given them of very poor welfare in many dairy farms. The Commission’s reply points out that dairy cows are protected by Article 3 of Directive 98/58. This requires farmers to take “all reasonable steps to ensure the welfare” of their animals. This is strong wording as it requires the taking of “all” reasonable steps to “ensure” welfare. However the Commission is not taking any effective action to make sure that farmers comply with this law. We will continue to press for dairy cows to be given high standards of welfare.

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Our investigation found appalling cruelty

During the summer of 2012, Compassion’s investigation team visited over 50 farms in Germany, Denmark and Spain. Our investigation focused on three of Europe’s key dairy producing countries, but we believe these dreadful conditions are likely to be more widespread.

When cows should have been grazing in fields, our investigation revealed animals kept in cramped and squalid conditions. Many cows were tethered all year round and never felt the sun on their backs. Many more were found to be suffering from exhaustion, painful lameness, sores and mastitis.