Cows Forced to Live in Their Own Waste at Dairy Farm

It sounds like something straight out of a horror film: being forced to wade through your own waste just to eat a meal. Every day, the pool of feces and urine grows deeper, and when you emerge, it hardens and dries to your hair and skin, resulting in sores and painful ulcers on your body. But this isn't some new slasher flick from Hollywood—it's a reality for cows on a North Carolina dairy farm that supplies milk to supermarket chain Harris Teeter.

After receiving a disturbing tip, PETA obtained shocking video footage of cows forced to live in their own corrosive, bacteria-laden waste—walking to and from the milking parlor, while eating, and where they spend every night, with no grass, straw or bedding to lie down on to rest. The cows—whose sensitive noses can smell odors up to 6 miles away—cannot escape the stench of the filth or the flies that swarm around them.

The manure splashes onto cows' udders moments before they are milked. It is caked on their limbs, and it is virtually impossible to clean cows' flanks and udders before milking, which creates a serious food safety threat.

All this—and the serious, painful infections of cows' skin and hooves that have resulted—is because the dairy's waste pit has not been emptied for so long that the manure in it has hardened.

These gentle giants are identified by tags fastened to their ears and become just another number inside the factory. The following are just a few of their stories:

  • One cow, identified only as "2," had an untreated, overgrown right hoof. A thick layer of manure was caked on her legs. She hobbled out of the milking parlor because putting weight on her overgrown hoof caused her severe pain. Her bones protruded sharply, and she was emaciated.
  • Cow "188" was little more than a skeleton. Producing milk requires cows to expend a tremendous amount of energy. Cows denied proper nutrition and care can quickly become emaciated.
  • Day after day, cow "6" bled from her nose, attracting more flies. She may have had a foreign object in her nose or an infection deep in her sinuses.

What We're Doing
PETA alerted local law-enforcement officials, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conditions of and for animals at the farm and asked authorities to ensure that adequate care is provided to the cows and also to conduct emergency inspections. Stay tuned for updates.

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