The video that PETA captured at the Osborne Farm, Inc., dairy in North Carolina was enough to make people sick: cows eating and sleeping amid their own waste, clumps of fur matted with manure and falling out, and even some emaciated or injured cows. The public was disgusted, and Osborne’s milk buyers noticed. At least one halted shipments from the farm. Soon afterward, Osborne’s owner sold the cows and shut the farm down.

The buyer that stopped purchasing from the farm was Milkco, a milk-processing center and subsidiary of Ingles Markets, Inc., a grocery store chain in the Southeast. Milkco told PETA that it “never received any milk from Osborne Farm after learning of the conditions at the farm on August 12.”

During state inspections of the farm on December 13, 2012, and March 11, 2013, the excessive manure was found to violate milk sanitation rules, leading the state to threaten to suspend the farm’s milk permit. On the latter date, the inspector saw “[c]ows … lying in manure” and “excessive accumulations” of manure in the cow yard. The same day, the inspector wrote that the bulk milk tank had “evidence of old milk residues” and that “no cleaning agents … can be located on premises.” The inspector noted that violations of these rules “were cited in previous quarterly inspection. These conditions warrant permit suspension if not corrected within 30 days.” The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services notified the farm of “the intent to suspend” its Grade A Milk Permit, but at the announced follow-up inspection, on April 9, 2013, the inspector found that the “[i]tems … have been corrected” and the permit was not suspended.

After PETA filed a complaint, the state inspected the farm again on August 8, 2014. It found more violations of milk sanitation rules, corroborating PETA’s findings that there was “excessive manure in the cowyard,” “pipes sticking up through the concrete in the holding lot,” and a “loose ceiling panel in the parlor” and that the “[p]arlor floor needs patching” and “stalls in parlor need painting.”

Some of the structural problems in the parlor had been identified before. The flooring issue had been raised three previous times. On June 23, 2014, the inspector wrote, “[W]e need to be thinking of doing some floor repair in the parlor and under tank valve.” On December 12, 2013, the inspector wrote, “Keep floors in mind.” On September 27, 2013, the inspector wrote, “Floors in [p]arlor will need to be patched soon.” The ceiling issue had been raised on June 23, 2014, when the inspector noted a “piece of … board coming loose on parlor ceiling that needs to be fixed [before] the whole thing falls down.”

It appears that it wasn’t just the parlor ceiling that fell down—the entire operation did as well. Even though Osborne is now reportedly closed, it sold the cows—possibly to other dairy operations or possibly to slaughter earlier than expected. We had offered to buy them, but at least there won’t be any more cows there now. PETA wants to remind people that cruel conditions on dairy farms aren’t the exception—they’re the rule. We’re working with advertising companies to place this billboard in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina:

The photos from our investigation prompted nearly 7,000 people to pledge to eat vegan and spare cows such suffering. You can join them. Take the pledge and show the dairy industry that you won’t stomach cruelty to animals.

Written by Michelle Kretzer

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