Land O'Lakes, Challenge Dairy Under Fire for Using Milk Products that Come from Confined CalvesOctober 2nd, 2007
"Free Baby Mendes" Campaign Shines Spotlight on Unlawful Conditions, Little-Known Practice within Dairy Industry
Cotati, Calif. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) today announced the "Free Baby Mendes" campaign to warn consumers about the cruel—and illegal—living conditions for calves raised to produce milk for dairy products. The campaign aims to stop the intensive confinement of baby cows by getting consumers to voice their concerns to Land O’Lakes (St. Paul, Minn.) and Challenge Dairy (Dublin, Calif.), two of the major corporations that use milk from calves raised at Mendes Calf Ranch.
Located in Tipton, Calif., Mendes houses calves for approximately 80 different dairy producers. After birth, baby calves are almost immediately taken away from their mothers and shipped to the Tulare County facility, which houses as many as 12,000 calves at one time. (This relatively new practice in the dairy industry — which can help profits but harm calves — is little-known by most consumers.)
"Just like humans and other animals, baby calves need their mothers. But dairy producers that use Mendes ship newborns away to live in cramped, filthy crates with barely enough room to move," says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. "Calves live by themselves in feces-covered crates that are so small the calves can’t even turn around or lie down naturally."
On June 19, 2006, ALDF filed a complaint in Tulare County Superior Court against Mendes Calf Ranch for isolating and confining newborn calves in crates. This confinement violates state anti-cruelty laws, which require that animals have adequate exercise area. ALDF v. Mendes is currently on appeal.
"Land O’Lakes and Challenge Dairy pride themselves on high-quality products and commitments to their consumers," says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. "We believe that once they know of the unlawful and cruel practices at Mendes Calf Ranch — and hear from concerned consumers who condemn them — they will send a strong message to end this cruel confinement."