Retailers began pulling Fairlife products from their shelves Wednesday as police investigated alleged animal abuse, after an animal rights group released graphic video showing workers kicking and throwing young calves at an Indiana dairy farm that's a popular destination for school field trips. Animal Recovery Mission said that an investigator for the Miami-based animal rights group secretly recorded the disturbing footage last year while working for several months at Fair Oaks Farms, which Food & Wine magazine has called the "Disneyland of agricultural tourism." The group said that the footage shows the "daily mistreatment of the resident farm animals" at the farm's dairies about 70 miles south of Chicago, the AP reports. "Due to the many years Fair Oaks Farms has been in business, it is impossible to number the amount of calves and cows that have inhumanely died at the hands of this company," said Rachel Taylor, a spokeswoman for Animal Recovery Mission.
Fair Oaks Farms is the flagship farm for Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium, and lower fat milk. At least three retailers—Strack & Van Til, Jewel-Osco, and Family Express—began pulling Fairlife products from their shelves Wednesday in response to the video, the Northwest Indiana Times reported. The video shows newborn calves being thrown in and out of their huts by employees, young calves being kicked in the head, and the carcasses of dead calves piled together in the dirt. The footage additionally shows employees striking calves with their hands and steel rods and calves being burnt with branding irons. Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey said in a statement Tuesday that four employees seen in the video have been fired and actions have been taken to prevent further abuse. A fifth person shown in the video was a third-party truck driver who was transporting calves, he said. (More on Fairlife here.)