Land O’Lakes, Challenge Dairy Under Fire for Using Milk Products that Come from Confined Calves

Posted on October 2, 2007

"Free Baby Mendes" Campaign Shines Spotlight on Unlawful Conditions, Little-Known Practice within Dairy Industry

A calf at Mendes Calf RanchCotati, 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."

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