The suffering
of calves

on a farm producing
Grana Padano

Sign the petition
111.139 signed this petition
Watch the investigation

This undercover investigation by Essere Animali documents the conditions of the calves on a factory farm producing Grana Padano, the most widely consumed cheese in the world. Despite being a product of so-called “Italian excellence”, what happens to calves on dairy farms is shocking: they are separated from their mothers at birth and imprisoned in small pens.

Watch the investigation

Download all the investigation’s photos

It is incredible that the current legislation still permits the isolation and confinement of new-born animals, as these are cruel and avoidable practices.

This is why we want to persuade the Italian Government and the European Commission to undertake a complete review of ALL legislation that affects farmed animals in Europe.

Cruel practices documented

Calves torn away from their mothers

At birth, calves are separated from their mothers and imprisoned in individual pens. They are dumped carelessly into a wheelbarrow and immobilised in an unnatural position, with one leg crossed around their neck.
The separation of mother and calf serves to facilitate the daily milking operations of thousands of cows, whose milk is thus destined entirely for the market or in this case for the production of Grana Padano.
There is evidence that calves separated from their mothers at birth show behavioural and developmental damage, whereas calves that are raised in a group setting benefit in terms of both sociability and well-being.

Calves imprisoned in small pens

The calves are raised in pens as wide as their bodies and, in the absence of free cages, some are housed in pairs: as a result, they have even less space at their disposal.
There are hundreds of cages with calves located next to the shed that holds their mothers, with whom they will never have direct contact again. Some boxes have critical hygiene conditions, as many of the calves get sick and have episodes of diarrhoea.
Due to the infection pressure on factory farms, antibiotics are administered frequently. There is nothing natural about the way these animals are fed: they are mainly given a mixture of milk powder and water, surrogates of their mothers’ milk.

"Bloody male"

A new-born calf is insulted by one of the workers. On dairy farms, male calves are considered a by-product: unlike female animals, they cannot be reintegrated into the dairy supply chain and generate less profit.

Graphic images Click to watch

Violent behaviour by the workers

During feeding, an operator kicks and hits the calves repeatedly. He also provides the calves with a limited number of buckets, preventing them from feeding at the same time and instigating rivalries between them.
In another sequence of images, a worker claims to carry out the disbudding of calves between the age of 2-3 months. This is in clear violation of the legislation that prohibits the operation because it causes great pain.
Although our investigator was unable to film the illegal behaviour, we still reported the farm to the authorities, stating the possibility of illegal and violent behaviour by workers towards animals.

We want new laws protecting animals

Add your signature and ask them aloud with us!

Be sure to sign the petition!

GRANA PADANO SALES DATA

Sources: Consorzio tutela Grana Padano 2021

The veterinarians' opinion

Prematurely separating calves from their mother is an abrupt interruption of the parental relationship, an important ethological behavior. This causes strong emotional pain for the mother and the calf, and this is demonstrated by their cries. The calves living in single boxes are deprived of the communicative relationship with the mother, which they seek as a basis for their ethological development, and this equally generates suffering. Feeding the calf with formula milk causes a lack of nutritional principles contained in breast milk and deprives them from their natural ethological behavior, since the liquid is quickly taken from the bucket and the need for sucking remains unsatisfied.
Enrico Moriconi - Veterinarian consultant in ethology, public representative for animal rights of the Piedmont Region
All the factors documented in this investigation cause stress and lower immunity, increasing the risk of disease and seriously compromising animal welfare with no opportunity for positive experiences or ‘a life worth living’ whatsoever for the animals involved.
Anja Dijkstra - Caring Vets, Association of Dutch Veterinarians taking a stand to improve Animal Welfare, based on the Veterinary Code of Conduct

This investigation raises the alarm about the conditions of calves on dairy farms. Unfortunately, the legislation allows for practices that cause significant stress and suffering to the animals. However, we will not lose heart; on the contrary, we have a great opportunity. In fact, the European Commission is now committed to the Farm to Fork strategy, an initiative that aims to make the European food system fairer, healthier and more environmentally friendly.

We want to persuade the European Commission to undertake a complete revision of the legislation on the protection of farm animals, which is currently seriously insufficient to guarantee them a life free of avoidable suffering. There are many of us! This is the No Animal Left Behind campaign, coordinated by Eurogroup For Animals – an organisation representing 77 animal protection NGOs in 27 Member States, the UK, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia and the United States.

The requests to the Commission include farming conditions that allow all farmed species to express natural behaviours, so that no animal is left behind.

For calves, we are calling for an end to the practices of isolation and confinement of newborn animals, specifically:

Allowing contact between the calf and his or her mother for at least the first eight weeks, during which the animals must be kept in a contact system for at least half a day with suckling permitted.

The provision of housing conditions that meet the behavioural needs of calves, which should be raised in groups and given access to outdoor areas.

HELP US TO SHOW THE WORLD WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON!

Thanks to our team of investigators, millions of people are discovering the reality of abuse and cruelty in farms and slaughterhouses. Our work saves animals and needs your support.

Donate now
Firma ora
Close

Take action
against cruelty on animals

Act now!
We want new laws protecting animals
Sign to to ask the Italian government an ambitious update of farmed animal welfare laws
Required field!
At least %s characters!
No more than %s characters!
Insert a valid datetime!
Insert a valid phone number!
Insert a valid ZIP code!
Insert a valid taxcode!
Insert a valid VAT number!
Accept the privacy policy to continue!
An error occurred! Check the fields.
Use a valid nickname!
Not valid password!
• at least one special character (-_@#$%)
• at least a number
• at least an uppercase character
• at least a lowercase character
• at least 6 characters long
• not more than 20 characters long
The verification password doesn't match the password you have chosen!
Not valid!
Not valid!
Ok!
Check the email!
The user is not been activated. Click the confirmation link in the email we sent you!
Mmmm.. are you sure about that?
You already signed up the newsletter
An error occurred!
read the petition

FOR A REFORM OF ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS 

Directed to

Presidente del Consiglio, Mario Draghi

Ministro delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali, Stefano Patuanelli

Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare, Roberto Cingolani

Ministero della Salute, Roberto Speranza

Presidente della Camera dei Deputati, Roberto Fico

Presidente del Senato, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati

In recent years, the organization Essere Animali has released various investigations carried out on Italian factory farms and in slaughterhouses, some in collaboration with major media groups, in order to document the conditions of animals raised for food.

During these investigations, carried out by means of thorough monitoring using hidden cameras and workers infiltrated inside farms, violations of animal protection legislation and the regulations of the Criminal Code were carefully filmed.

Essere Animali’s investigations have shown:

  • violence inflicted by farmworkers when moving animals or when they resist treatment, such as blows with iron pipes, improper use of electric tasers, using a forklift to move downed cows, kicking and throwing small animals;
  • mutilations carried out without the use of anesthetics and analgesia and without the presence of a veterinarian beyond the age permitted by law and the systematic cutting off piglets’ tails, an illegal but widespread practice on almost all Italian farms;
  • animals left to die in agony or brutally killed by farmworkers, without the application of the correct provisions for the emergency killing of sick animals;
  • group killings within slaughterhouses, with animals witnessing the death of their fellows and with the use of ineffective stunning practices.

Various complaints have been submitted to the competent authorities for these incidences of abuse. However, the frequency of these incidents, filmed on almost all the farms under investigation chosen on a random basis across the national territory – even among suppliers of PDO products – prompts me to express my deep concern.

Alongside these violations of the law, Essere Animali’s investigations have also shown farming types and practices that, although currently legal, are the cause of undisputed physical and psychological suffering for animals, including:

  • the use of cages in which animals spend a large part or all of their lives;
  • high densities when the animals are reared “free-range” or in pens;
  • the surgical castration of piglets, debeaking of hens, and killing by maceration of live chicks considered useless for farming purposes;
  • the separation of calves from their mothers at birth for the purposes of milk production.

I am therefore calling for a process of legislative reform to be undertaken which:

  • prohibits the use, even partial, of cages;
  • prohibits any mutilation and the killing of male chicks, which are perfectly healthy but considered unproductive by the livestock industry;
  • puts an end to public subsidies for the livestock sector;
  • leads to the tightening of penalties for the mistreatment of animals and other breaches of protection regulations, in the most serious cases providing for the revocation of authorizations and the prohibition of activity;
  • establishes a control system on farms, during transport, and during slaughter phases which is absolutely more effective than the one adopted so far;
  • reformulates stocking densities, giving the animals more room to move, also outdoors, and with the presence of environmental enrichment;
  • provides for farming systems that allow animals to meet their ethological needs according to age and species, in consultation with animal rights organizations.
Thank you! Your signature is very important
Please share this petition to help us reach more people

Make a donation to help animals in need

Per:

If you have problems with this form or want to contact directly our donor care write to us.

Required field!
At least %s characters!
No more than %s characters!
Insert a valid datetime!
Insert a valid phone number!
Insert a valid ZIP code!
Insert a valid taxcode!
Insert a valid VAT number!
Accept the privacy policy to continue!
An error occurred! Check the fields.
Use a valid nickname!
Not valid password!
• at least one special character (-_@#$%)
• at least a number
• at least an uppercase character
• at least a lowercase character
• at least 6 characters long
• not more than 20 characters long
The verification password doesn't match the password you have chosen!
Not valid!
Not valid!
Ok!
Check the email!
The user is not been activated. Click the confirmation link in the email we sent you!
Mmmm.. are you sure about that?
You already signed up the newsletter
An error occurred!