A PETA eyewitness exposé of Reitz Dairy Farm—a Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, farm that kept approximately 300 cows and scores of calves—reveals that cows being milked were denied care for painful grapefruit-size masses that oozed blood and pus, struck over and over on their sensitive udders, and found dead lying in manure.
These cows are milked for the National Farmers Organization, which says it ships most of its Pennsylvania dairy suppliers’ milk to Lanco-Pennland, maker of Pennland Pure cheeses.
Please take action today to prevent more cows and calves from enduring this and more!
Calves Kept Penned in Their Own Waste—With More Suffering in Store for Them
The cycle of misery at Reitz Dairy Farm begins in filthy barns, where calves, who were separated from their mothers shortly after birth, were forced to lie in their own manure and urine day after day. They were denied any opportunity to set foot outdoors.
Eventually, female calves are inseminated—just like their mothers—and exploited for their milk. After their bodies wear out from the constant cycle of pregnancy and lactation, cows used in the dairy industry are shipped off to be slaughtered—the same terrifying fate that male calves face.
Lame Mother Cows Left to Lie in Manure, Milked Daily for Cash
Injured and ailing cows were put in what was called the “outback barn,” which was full of accumulated feces and urine. Allowing wounded cows to lie in such filth can cause arthritis and severe lameness. Cows at Reitz Dairy Farm limped along gingerly on floors slick with waste, including in the very room where the milk that they had produced for their calves was taken from them to be sold and made into cheese.
One cow, named Caroline by PETA’s eyewitness, developed painful lameness and favored one of her hooves. Her condition worsened, but the farm manager didn’t provide her with any care. Instead, she was put in a pen full of manure—which could cause deep foot infections, abscesses, disease, and more. Eventually, PETA’s eyewitness found her dead.
Cows Repeatedly Kicked and Beaten With a Cane—Even on their Udders
One cow became trapped in a stall after being milked. Rather than helping to free her, a worker hit her on the hindquarters, legs, and udder nearly 60 times with a hard cane—deliberately targeting her sensitive udder. He also kicked her over and over again.
He repeatedly struck another cow on her delicate udder, too, even though she had just given birth and her newborn had just been torn away from her.
Denied Care for Swollen, Ruptured Leg Joints Leaking Pus and Blood
Many cows’ leg joints were severely swollen—a painful condition that can be caused by trauma (like being struck or jabbed) or by constantly lying in filthy stalls with no bedding, like those at Reitz Dairy Farm, where cows tried to rest when not being milked. One veterinary expert who reviewed the eyewitness footage said, “The excessive waste accumulation and harsh, abrasive concrete stalls without bedding is causing and exacerbating injury and illness in the animals.”
PETA’s eyewitness found that the left hind leg joint—or “hock”—of a cow he named Anna was inflamed and larger than a grapefruit. When asked if she would be provided with veterinary care, the farm manager replied, “Not for swollen hocks.” Week after week, Anna’s painful hock grew larger and larger, until finally it burst—leaving blood and pus running down her leg.
Like Anna, Daisy—and many other cows—were given no care for their swollen, inflamed hocks, some of which were open and oozing blood or a thick yellow discharge.
Approximately 60% of the cows who were being milked had leg joints that were swollen, ulcerated, or missing hair. Anna, Daisy, and others endured these painful injuries week after week—but were still hooked up to machines that took their milk for human consumption every day.
A Painful Eye, a Perforated Teat, and More—but no Vet Care
The left eye socket of another cow, named Betsy by PETA’s eyewitness, was covered with protruding tissue and secreted fluid, which an expert stated is “is indicative of eye irritation and pain.” Still, the farm manager indicated that nothing would be done for her.
Other cows had wounds on their sensitive udders or teats.
Milk leaked from a hole in one cow’s teats, increasing her risk of mastitis, a painful infection of the udder common in cows used for their milk.
“The worst problems shown on this video were the swollen hocks. One was almost the size of a basketball. These are some of the WORST hocks I have ever seen. These cows would definitely be suffering. It is obvious that the farmer was not taking steps to prevent swollen hocks. Some of these cows should have been culled before they deteriorated to such poor conditions. This is a poorly managed dairy where cows were suffering.” —World-renowned meat- and dairy-industry expert Dr. Temple Grandin
The Long History of Cruelty at Reitz Dairy Farm
This isn’t the first time that cows have been found suffering at this farm. In 2009, PETA documented that cows who were in so much pain that they couldn’t even stand up were electro-shocked, kicked, or jabbed with a blade. Some were left to deteriorate until they were too weak to stand up, and downed cows were just left for dead.
In the years since, worker after worker from the farm has blown the whistle about the neglect, abuse, and filth at Reitz Dairy Farm—which has shocked even those who have long worked in the dairy industry. One whistleblower reported that farm owner Lloyd Reitz Sr. and his son, Andy Reitz, slit conscious cows’ throats, made cows lie in their own waste, left sick and injured cows untreated, and more.
What You Can Do
This exposé spotlights just one farm and reveals only some of the routine cruelty in the dairy industry. Cows carry their young for nine months—just like humans—and produce milk for their own babies. But on every dairy farm, their calves are taken away from them shortly after birth, and their milk is sold for human consumption. The surest way to spare cows and calves all this pain and misery is to stop buying cheese and other dairy “products” and go vegan today.
If you think you have what it takes to carry out eyewitness investigations like this one, we want to hear from you. Click here to share your gratitude with the eyewitness who revealed the cruelty at this farm.
Finally, please urge the National Farmers Organization to reconsider whether it and its customers want to continue being affiliated with suffering and filth such as that documented at Reitz Dairy Farm.