Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Texas Sheriff Probes Brutal Treatment of Calves

Animal agriculture in the Texas Panhandle may be tested soon on whether it can punish its own when severe abuse is involved.

Castro County Sheriff Salvador Rivera is now investigating E6 Cattle Co. in Hart, Texas after a Mercy For Animals undercover video surfaced last week showing brutal mistreatment of animals. 

Located between Amarillo to the north and Lubbock to the south in Castro County, the E6 Cattle Co. rears as many as 10,000 calves for dairy farms.

Chicago-based Mercy For Animals sent in an undercover operative who spent two weeks in March collecting digital pictures of what was going on inside the cattle operations.

Here’s what the video, widely circulated on the Internet, shows:

Workers bludgeoning calves’ skulls with pickaxes and hammers — often involving 5 to 6 blows, sometimes more — before rending the animals unconscious.

Beaten calves, still alive and conscious, thrown onto piles.

Workers kicking downed calves in the head, and standing on their necks and ribs.

Calves confined to squalid hutches, thick with manure and urine buildup, and barely large enough for the calves to turn around or fully extend their legs.

Gruesome injuries and afflictions, including open sores, swollen joints and severed hooves.

Ill, injured and dying calves denied medical care.

The budding horns of calves burned out of their skulls without first adminstering painkillers.

After viewing the undercover work, Dr. Temple Grandin, the Colorado State University animal welfare expert who advises USDA, gave the group a statement.

 ”It is obvious that both the management and the employees have no regard for animal welfare,” Grandin said.  Her CSU colleague, Dr. Bernard Rollin, condemned E6, saying: “I urge everyone in a position of authority to serve notice to the world that this sort of behavior has no place in a society wishing to consider itself civilized. These people must be corrected with the full force of the legal system.”

Animals that are panicked or stressed are more likely to contract diseases that spread foodborne illnesses.

Kirt Espenson, owner of the E6 Cattle Co., has taken responsibility. “I take this very seriously and I am deeply saddened on what’s happened on our farm. I take full responsibility,” he said.

The Texas cattlemen said sick calves, winter weather, and some inexperienced hands created the situation that Mercy For Animals captured on tape.

Once the Castro County Sheriff completes his investigation, the findings will go to James Horton, the county attorney in Dimmitt, Texas. It will be up to Horton whether to prosecute and, if so, what kind of charges to pursue.

Mercy For Animals has already provided Horton with a detailed complaint under the Texas anti-cruelty law.

“The evidence demonstrated an ongoing pattern of torture, unjustifiable infliction of pain and suffering on animals, and a failure to provide necessary medical care,” the MFA statement says.

© Food Safety News
  • http://www.marlerblog.com bill marler

    It is “Perhaps the most disturbing animal cruelty video ever”
    http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped/perhaps-the-most-disturbing-animal-cruelty-video-ever/

  • marguerite

    Thank you for the update. They should be punished to the full length of the law. This should never happen. It is so cruel and abusive.

  • Dawn S

    How does this happen in this day and age!!! Where are the employers ????

  • grace

    Missing a few details in this story. The Mercy For Animals videographer was on the tape beating a calf. No call was made in to authorities at the time of the beatings even though they had the technology to tape it – didn’t they have a phone, or was he too busy to call. The animals were being euthanized because they were in pain from incurable frost bite injuries. Plus the correct means of euthanizing was on hand, but they chose this way – doesn’t make sense. The authorities (whom we have hired) will review and take care of this situation.
    Also, remember this is an edited tape, and just like at the movies is not always as it looks. Best to let the law authorities judge it not a lynch mob.

  • Ben Mark

    That’s why the meat industry is after the Senators to outlaw taking videos like this. It’s a shame!
    Iowa Senate modifies farm-film bill
    Like those in several other states, Iowa’s state legislature is considering legislation to outlaw clandestine video recordings on livestock operations.

  • Michelle

    This is absolutely unacceptable! I teach culinary students that when they become chefs,they need to ensure they buy products from reputable suppliers. This company is obviously not such a company. To top that off, what kind of sick individual could actually inflict that kind of torture on another living creature. Prosecute!

  • susan

    No amount of artful editing could create this evil spectacle. The owner Kirt Espenson and all of those involved should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. His alleged ignorance is hard to believe. Obviously his operation’s culture must foster such cruelty and sadism. I am a meat eater and hope this is a horrible anomaly and not the norm.

  • http://sfchefs.org Chef Roger Gafner

    Missing a few details? There is no excuse for this type of cruelty and it shouldn’t be tolerated under any circumstances.

  • bill

    We are cattle feeders in the texas panhandle and our industry works very hard to produce the best and safest product in the world. This case is way outside of the way things really happen. Cattle feeders don’t make money bashing in heads. We do well when our cattle are taken care of, happy and content. A dead one doesn’t make money. I agree, the tapes are horrible and that should have never happened and it gives our industry a bad black eye. But the point is, that is not the way the cattle industry works. We all work day and night to take care of our cattle the best ways possible. So, give our industry a little credit. Go enjoy a nice filet, because it is safe, nutritious and delicious.

  • http://raylindairy.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/farmers-who-care-about-animals/ Farmer Mike

    As a farmer I found this video appalling, if you want to hear more of what farmers are saying you can find it here
    http://ow.ly/4I2cE

  • Ben Mark

    bill: I agree with you, but there are always other people out there too, they are careless, filthy etc. Here is another “crime” scene:
    Jody Eriksson, who collected the waste samples and filmed under the farms, said: “It‟s a wasteland down under the
    farms. We were shocked: piles of fish faeces, rotting feed, bacterial mats and bubbling gases; a bottom smothered
    by waste. This out of sight damage must be exposed!”
    http://huffstrategy.com/MediaManager/Media/Text/1303845686_Alexandra+Morton+returns+fish+farm+manure+to+aquaculture+site.pdf

  • Veronica

    This is disgusting and the people who do this are Evil. Not human, but demon in the human form. Just like the people who can walk up to a gorgeous baby seal and bash it in the head till it dies. You have to be Evil to do something so horrid. This garbage needs to stop. As long as there are Evil people around willing to call this a “living” and “just part of their job” I don’t know what is going to happen :(

  • Ruth

    Grace do not cover up for your friends, you are dispicable

  • Deanne

    All the videos have been removed accept the one on the MFA website, I guess everyone finally realized it was a fraudulent video and the undercover reporter for the MFA (“Roy”) was the one encouraging the cruelty of the cattle in order to make his story. The footage was cut and edited so that THEY would get the response from the public that THEY wanted to benefit THEIR cause. He suggested to the Spanish speaking employees that it would be more cost efficient to use the hammer and pick axe and ultimately would get them a raise in the long run. Instead, it cost them their jobs. He had no foresight of the pain and hurt his actions would cause the families affiliated with the feedlot. There have been death threats made to employees and their children are being tortured at school. God, be that reporter and correct his actions and be with those families that have been affected by MFA’s agenda. Kirt, the owner has already stepped up to apologize and said that this is not his practice or policy when weeding out the sick calves. “Roy” should have some integrity and admit his faults in this as well.

    • John Liozeris

      I am forced to believe my eyes.

  • Lisa

    I hope Kirt is charged to the full extent of the law. I hope his unethical workers go down with him. There’s no excuse for what they’ve done. The MFA undercover couldn’t convinced anyone who is ethical and/or compassionate to bash heads in with pick axes and hammers. This was business as usual on that farm and they got caught!!! Good work MFA!

  • Madeleine-Germany

    It’s really an awfull reality how claves are treated in Texas E6 Cattle Farm. Those men are heartless monsters. They should go to hell. – Stop mistreating animals. Be kind to animals. In USA, Australia, Indonesia, Germany … Stop beeing cruel to animals.

  • John Liozeris

    “frost damaged calves” he said. The record cold for April for nearby Lubbock is 18 F. Only an already dying calf would suffer frost damage at that temperature. This creature Espenson walked right thru the killings as a routine. This is a bad man. As long as he is not on camera he will remain a bad man. He is a bad seed.