Farm experts and farmers react to Birnamwood farm abuse video - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Farm experts and farmers react to Birnamwood farm abuse video

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) - Agriculture experts and other farmers are weighing in on video released of workers at a Shawano County farm hitting cows. It was taken at Andrus Dairy Farm in Birnamwood.

In the video, some of the cows are hit with poles, stomped on, and have their tails cut off in what's called tail docking. One of the farm's workers secretly recorded the video. It was then shared and exposed by the group Mercy for Animals.

"Mercy for Animals immediately turned over meticulously compiled evidence of these violations of Wisconsin's state anti-cruelty laws to law enforcement," said Nick Cooney, a representative for Mercy for Animals.

Farmers are now speaking out about this video.

"We as farmers, why would we want to hurt the things that put money in our pockets," said James Juedes, a farmer from the Town of Easton.

Juedes says he does not agree with harming the animals, but he feels many of those workers were just doing their job.

"Being that they're workers, they probably don't have the caring aspect that the owners do,” said Juedes. “For me and my smaller operation, I know them all personally like that. But that's their job to get things done."

He says hitting cows with poles is one way they keep them moving.

"If the animal can't get up and can't walk, the only other option is that the animal has to be put down," said Juedes.

Owners at the Andrus Dairy Farm didn't want to talk to Newsline 9 on camera, but in a written statement, they say they were shocked some of their employees were doing this to their cows. The owners said, "We will require all employees sign an animal care commitment and immediately report inappropriate behavior to us, and we will increase our presence in areas where our employees are handling animals."

Juedes says it's a fine line.

"You don't want to go overboard on what you do,” said Juedes. “But you know, everybody needs to keep in mind that these animals are ten times the weight of a human being."

We tried reaching out to our local agriculture experts through the UW-Extension. We were directed to their state animal well-being specialist. In a statement, she says UW-Extension and the Department of Dairy Science at UW-Madison do not condone the acts shown on this video and do not consider these acts as representative of Wisconsin dairy farms.

One of those acts is tail docking, or clipping the cow's tail. In the UW-Extension statement, the specialist says they do not support it.

But Juedes disagrees, saying it helps keep cows clean when they are milked.

"It's really no different than you or I piercing our nose, or our tongue, or our lip or anything else,” said Juedes. “It hurts for a little bit, but once it's done, it's done."

But no doubt, the debate will continue.

The Shawano County Assistant District Attorney said in a statement he will not file charges against Andrus Dairy Farm.
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