Yesterday, L214 filed a complaint against Denkavit for serious abuse and mistreatment. Today, the animal protection association reveals to the public the images of its last field investigation: punches and sticks, projection on the ground, insults, isolation and diseases… This is how the daily life of the 300 calves is done. of the Research and Innovation Center of the agri-food company, located in Montreuil-Bellay, in the Pays de la Loire. While France was the world’s second-largest calf producer in 2018, with 1,268,000 cows born each year, the reality of French farms sometimes ends up straying far from the bucolic and touching images sold by the ads.
According to data from FranceAgriMer, over 1.2 million calves were raised for its meat in France in 2018. These data rank the country as the second largest producer of young cattle, but also the largest consumer of veal on a global scale. Created for up to 5-6 months in France, sometimes 8 months in other European countries, veal comes mainly from dairy farms, with 55% of calves born to dairy cows.
9 out of 10 beef calves are not fed by their mothers
While these numbers may be surprising, they are not surprising: to produce enough milk for human consumption, cows must give birth to a calf each year. That’s why so many young cattle fill French farms. Considered, therefore, as “by-products” of milk production and, therefore, of low market value, the calves are quickly fattened before being sent to the butcher.
while less than 10% French calves are raised “under the mother”, that is, placed next to the parent until natural weaning, the rest of the production grew in the so-called specialized workshops. Present throughout the national territory, this type of agriculture still has a strong historical predominance in western dairy basins, particularly in Normandy, Brittany and Pays de Loire..
Denkavit, a global player in animal nutrition and veal production
It is precisely here that the agri-food company Denkavit, number 2 in veal in France, is located. This Dutch company produces specific food for young farm animals and works with 650 integrated French breeders, or under contract with the company. With subsidiaries in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United States, the Denkavit Group supplies products to over 60 countries worldwide.
Thanks to these two research and innovation centers, the company promises farmers ” that meet the needs of animals and the goals of breeders » but also “ one experience gained through our know-how and our constant research, supported by our specialists specializing in young ruminants to optimize the performance and profitability of French farms », you can read on the website. The Dutch company explains it like this having dedicated its research center located in France to carry out studies on ” nutrition, as well as housing, equipment and animal welfare ».
“Serves Your Mouth”
But it is in this center that Abuse images were reported by L214. The animal protection association reveals in a new investigation several videos filmed at the research centre. Between throws, punches, kicks, sticks and insults, employees are extremely violent towards young calves under 8 weeks of age. The breeding conditions of ruminants are also impressive: calves are locked in small cages on the concrete floor with no bedding or water available, fed and watered twice a day. Once a little older, they are then placed in groups, still in these buildings, until they are slaughtered at around 6 months.
Some animals also show symptoms of respiratory and digestive pathologies. such as fever, runny nose, diarrhea or cough. Others suffer from ear infections or meningitis. To combat these infections linked to the fragility of young animals and their breeding conditions, Denkavit employees give them regular doses of antibiotics. The association thus noticed more than 7 different antibioticsincluding 3 belonging to 2 families classified by WHO as a high priority in the context of monitoring antibiotic resistance.
Sanction and protect, demand animal protection associations
For Sébastien Arsac, co-founder of L214: “ These images of violence revolt and outrage. These reprehensible acts are the result of a breeding system that optimizes its production at all costs without considering the sensitivity of the animals. “. The animal protection organization has filed a complaint with the Saumur court prosecutor for serious abuse and mistreatment. She also throws one petition on its dedicated website to demand immediate sanctions from the authorities.
Other associations also alerted public opinion to the raising of calves in Europe, which is still poorly regulated by European and national legislation. This was particularly the case for the NGO Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), which had broadcast in the summer of 2019 footage filmed at several European farms of young calves stored in individual crates, like white plastic igloos.
If one The 2008 European directive made it possible to slightly alter the calf rearing environment to better consider the needs of the species, the existing legislative framework is not sufficient for animal protection associations, which campaign, among other things, for a ban on the confinement of calves under 8 weeks of age. ” We want a gradual ban on cages, implemented for calendar purposes and for breeders to be supported in the transition to alternative breeding. », pleaded the director of CIWF France in the columns of Le Monde.