Animal Justice Project has had a major bus ad campaign CANCELLED following a ground-breaking undercover investigation at Bath Soft Cheese farm in Kelston, Bath.
Animal Justice Project has had a major bus ad campaign CANCELLED following a ground-breaking undercover investigation at Bath Soft Cheese farm in Kelston, Bath [1], showing for the first-time in the UK cow-calf separation on an organic dairy farm.

The investigation, published in the Mail Online [2] spanned seven months and captured calves being dragged from birthing pens and housed in individual pens for up to a month. Mother cows appeared obviously distressed and one calf was filmed crying for 39 hours post-separation. Since launching the investigation both Abel & Cole [3] and Planet Organic [4] have dropped Bath Soft Cheese from their suppliers and removed all reference to the company on their websites.

Animal Justice Project, as part of its new 'Milking It' campaign [1], worked with a marketing agency over several weeks to create 'streetliner' adverts for eight First CityLine buses that would run over five weeks from 20 December with the simple messaging "Organic Dairy Takes Babies from Others" based on previous similar bus ads by Irish NGO, Go Vegan World. Upon paying in full for the ads and supplying First Bus depot with evidence showing that the words were factual as well as peer-reviewed research on the emotional impacts of cow-calf separation to highlight the significant and importance of the ads, First Bus depot cancelled the ads due to their "sensitive nature".

Specifically, Animal Justice Project was told that the "artwork was approved by the media owner but the bus depot won't accept it." and, when asked for clarification, that "They [the bus depot] have suggested for copy to be approved it would need to be a less sensitive topic."

Due to the fact that calves are taken from their mothers, even on organic dairies, as standard practice, Animal Justice Project is shocked and disappointed that the ads have been cancelled and criticises the lack of evidential basis behind the decision. Claire Palmer, Animal Justice Project spokesperson states: "The rejection of our adverts, which were approved by a legal team, highlighting just one clear and simple fact about the dairy industry, due to them being too "sensitive" for the public to bear is an extremely sad and worrying state of affairs. This is censorship from a bus company that should be impartial. The public, who are subjected by a daily onslaught of advertising by animal agriculture industries, have a right to know the truth, and the silencing of animal rights organisations to tell it is outrageous".

The vegan ads are not the first of their kind to be cancelled by a bus company - in January last year Go Vegan World adverts were cancelled by Exterion Media (now Global Media) [5], despite them all having prior approval by the Advertising Standards Authority.

In distressing scenes, three-day-old calves are dragged from birthing pens with ropes around their necks then taken to individual pens measuring just 3x6ft; significantly smaller than the bedded pens shown to visitors on the farm’s August public ‘open farm day’. On this day, staff had disassembled their usual calf pens completely and built much larger pens to show the public.

The investigation reveals the apparent anguish of both cow and calf post-separation, as evidenced by their persistent vocalisations and restlessness - indicative of distress. One calf cried for over 39 hours and his mother appeared to attempt to seek him out.

Cow-calf separation is an emotionally painful experience for both cow and calf. Research shows that cows form strong maternal bonds with their calves just five minutes after birth [6]. Studies suggest that this bond would be expected to be even stronger between cows and calves at Bath Soft Cheese, since calves are removed at around 3 days old [eg 7-9]. Longer than the industry standard of a day or two. Furthermore, the young calves at Bath Soft Cheese were dragged into a separate shed post-separation, but could still hear their mothers’ cries, which is thought to make the experience even more distressing [10].

Mother cows are forced to give birth every year at the farm [11], and so are in calf for 9 months of the year.


Claire Palmer, Msc Zoology


Animal Justice Project

T: +44 (0) 7851 497 827




[3] per email comms (available upon request)
[4] per email comms (available upon request)



[8] Forde-et-al-2002.-responses-cows-calves.pdf


[10] physical_contact_between_

dairy_cows_and_calves_during_separation_on_their_post-separation _behavioural_response



[13] uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/902524/



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