Tackling Animal Cruelty

I was drinking coffee when I watched the Mercy For Animals video showing cruel treatment of dairy calves at the E6 Cattle Company operation. (It is painful to watch, so please be advised if you choose to go see it.) The coffee turned to ash in my mouth as I watched it, but the end slogan of “Go vegetarian” caused me to pause. What had been a horrifying depiction of animal cruelty turned into a horrifying depiction of animal cruelty to support an agenda.

I have a problem with animal cruelty. I have a big problem with it, and the majority of ranchers treat their animals with great care. Not only because animals help provide for their families, but because watching an animal suffer, let alone causing an animal to suffer in such a way, is not to be tolerated. It even bothers me when people work their cattle more roughly than necessary, but that’s a different discussion for a different time.

Animal cruelty is bad. It’s not okay. I think the vast majority of people from all walks of life can agree on that point. But what I am questioning today is the undercover video part of this story. I am questioning whether it was edited. I am questioning why this case of animal cruelty was not reported to the proper authorities immediately. I am questioning if the suffering of these animals was used to support an agenda.

The responsibility does not fall solely on the shoulders of those folks performing those horrible cruel acts. Was there anyone at E6 Cattle Company who knew these animals were being treated cruelly, had a problem with it, and didn’t say anything? If so, then this is partly on them. (The owner, Kirt Espenson has stepped forward to handle this situation.) Why did the camera operator not stop the cruel treatment? Or, as some sources have stated, why did the camera operator take part? Was completing a video to support a campaign more important than stopping such cruel treatment of a helpless animal? This is partly on the camera operator and anyone who happened to be watching.

The responsibility also falls to the rest of us working in animal agriculture. We have a responsibility to call out the bad actors among us; being silent is not an option.

So while I appreciate that this case of animal cruelty has been exposed, there must be a better way for efficient and effective management of animal welfare issues. Reporting animal cruelty cases to the proper authorities should be an immediate response, but that doesn’t prevent the cruelty from occurring in the first place.

I am interested in proactive approaches that reduce the number of animal cruelty cases from happening. Inspections? A community watch program? I don’t know what the best solution is, but we can do better than this. We have an obligation to do better than this as ranchers, as animal owners, and as human beings.


  1. Kathy Gleason says:

    Every time one of these videos is released someone asks why didn’t the person taking the video stop it. The plain truth is that without the video coverage no one would believe this is actually happening – that there are monsters in the farming industry that abuse or neglect these animals. The video is the proof, and I commend anyone who has the guts to shoot the video. Rest assured it had to be extremely difficult to watch the horrific beating of these animals. I am grateful that someone was strong enough to take this and any other undercover video.

    The solution would be to actually prosecute those caught abusing farm animals. A stiff sentence and huge fine might discourage this.

  2. I’ll tell you what won’t help. The laws working their way through the Iowa and Florida legislature that make it illegal to film these dispicable acts are an attempt from factory farms to obscure how the public’s food is handled.

    • Ranchers can paint all vegans as non-thinking radicals and vegans can think of all ranchers and cowboys as animal abusers even though neither picture is right. Neither picture is helpful to the situation.

      Calm down, think about it…Investigate whether or not the video was truly a “hidden camera” or whether it was a fully orchestrated and directed scam produced by MFA.

      If you are a vegan, think about where you have received your information. If you have only been receiving it from organizations like MFA, PETA or HSUS, you need to realize that all of their information has been designed to emotionally inflame you and has little (if anything) to do with the truth. Get some education from outside your normal circle of influence and make a more educated decision. You will probably remain a vegan which I couldn’t care less about, but at least you will be better educated.

  3. Cathy Henderson says:

    I watched the film and I had a hard time sitting thru the blatant abuse and mistreatment of a living creature. No animal, no matter the circumstance, should be treated in such a way. It is just plain wrong. I don’t understand what ugliness someone has in their soul to take out vengence on a helpless animal. Does it make them feel like a big man? Do they enjoy the power trip? It is sad indeed.

    What I find more sad is that these crimes should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and sometimes are not. Legitimate farmers and ranchers should take huge offense to this type of abuse. I was raised around animals, rode horses for years and I lived on a farm that had been in my family since 1840. I had never heard of anything like this or even dreamed such cruel people could exist. I remember a farm hand beating a horse and my grandfather throwing him off the property.

    I know there are legitimate ranches where animals are not treated like this. These ranchers should take huge offense to the ones that abuse helpless animals and they should be the ones that demand prosecution to the full extent of the law. Whether someone is vegan or vegetarian should not even be an issue. How do you stand idly by and let someone do this and not voice your rage on it. Stand up for what is right and stop people like this from working in your industry. When people see things like this film, they think all ranches are like this. I personally know they are not. Demand prosecution and severe punishment for those that do things like this.

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