NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (WANE) — A North Manchester veal operation is denying claims that calves were abused at their facility after a video was released by an animal welfare organization last week.
The video, released by the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), was taken at farm owned and operated by Midwest Veal LLC and Strauss Veal Feeds. Midwest Veal LLC raises calves, while Strauss Veal Feeds provides the animal feed. The two companies work closely together.
Steve Anderson, President of Midwest Veal LLC, said the barn was purchased last year. Anderson said the video is not an accurate depiction of the way their operation runs. In fact, he said it highlights the importance of necessary changes that are being made across the veal industry.
The video alleges the abuse occurred at Strauss Veal Feeds. Richard Couto, Founder of ARM, said a retired sheriff’s deputy went undercover as a calf care giver at the farm located in North Manchester in Wabash County. The investigator worked at the farm for about two weeks, he said.
“The cruelty here wasn’t at the hands of the workers with this company,” said Cuoto. “It was the living environment. How the calves were being housed. Small veal crates, dying of starvation…. they were dying of disease.”
According to ARM, the investigator found calves in poor living conditions, brutalized during transport, neglect of injured or sick calves and illegal use of medications.
Representatives with Midwest Veal LLC and Strauss Veal Feeds deny those claims. They said the calves were being treated in accordance with the company’s standards.
“The claims, which sound terrible, are not true,” said Anderson. “Like it’s 120 degrees in there and we lose 20 calves a day. We use illegal medication… that is wrong.”
The American Veal Association wants the veal industry to utilize group housing for calves. While the older facilities with smaller pens are not ideal, they are not illegal.
“I’ve been in those barns I’ve seen those type of facilities,” said Dr. Marissa Hake, the staff veterinarian for Midwest Veal LLC. “We’re moving away from those. And actually at this point in time we don’t have any barns like that at all anymore.”
The facility shown in the video is now empty. Midwest Veal LLC bought the farm in 2018. The company moved the calves out in June and are slated begin renovations to fit the newer standards for raising calves, Anderson said.
“Everything is shifting to more square footage, bright barns,” said Anderson “It’s all about animal welfare and the animals do better for us if they’re taken care of.”
ARM the same organization that released videos appearing to show animal abuse at a Fair Oaks Farms facility in western Indiana that led to criminal charges earlier this year, shows what they claim to be animal abuse at another Indiana farm.
Click below to take a tour of farms owned by Midwest Veal.
What exactly is veal farming?
Milk-fed veal calves are raised for 6 months and weigh about 500 pounds when marketed as veal. Unlike beef, veal meat is lighter and more tender. Veal calves diets consist of milk with servings of corn, grain and water.