Montreal, Que. – Canada’s largest dairy processor announced that it has implemented strict animal welfare policies.
Saputo Inc. says it is refusing to buy milk from farmers who don’t treat their animals humanely.
Nearly a year ago, reports The Canadian Press, an undercover video was made public showing cows being punched, kicked and beaten with pipes at one of Saputo’s suppliers – Chilliwack Cattle Company in B.C.
Mercy For Animals, a California-based organization, says it had released the video after conducting an undercover investigation. The video also shows workers using chains and tractors to lift sick and injured cows by their necks.
Saputo says its Animal Welfare Policy was developed after consultations with customers, dairy producers, veterinarians, governmental authorities, universities and other industry stakeholders across the Saputo value chain.
Key elements of the policy include:
• Zero tolerance for any act of animal cruelty
• A commitment to achieving the elimination of tail docking in dairy cattle
• The dedication of resources to ensuring a minimum industry standard for pain control when dehorning or disbudding cattle.
Saputo adds that it will be providing additional resources to two university programs that specialize in dairy animal handling and welfare.
The University of Guelph in Ontario will be offering the new Saputo Dairy Care Program through its Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare and the Ontario Veterinary College. This program focuses on providing practical dairy welfare education, including workshops, to veterinary students, veterinary practitioners and dairy producers.
Saputo is also contributing funding to two initiatives at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.
One is the Dairyland Initiative, which provides resources, consulting services and workshops to develop animal welfare-friendly housing for dairy cattle. Saputo also wants to make these tools accessible to dairy producers and professionals worldwide.
The other initiative is the LifeStep Program that will focus on low-stress cattle handling approaches, lameness prevention and end of life management.