You may remember the undercover investigation that took place at Oaklands Livestock Centre in Shropshire, which was reported in the news?
On Monday, the farmer responsible, 57-year-old Mr Derek Whittall, was convicted of ear tag swapping and animal welfare offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006!
Our footage at Oaklands, as well as a nearby abattoir, showed Whittall collecting calves from dairy farms and markets across the North East of England and taking them back to his farm before sending them to the abattoir. Whittall has already been to prison for sending ‘ineligible’ calves to slaughter under the now-defunct ‘Calf Processing Scheme’, so you’d think he would be sent back this time around. Sadly not, despite being found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and The Cattle Identification Regulations 2007 at Telford Magistrates Court.
However, the good news is that he’s been banned from keeping cows for five years, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, and pay prosecution costs amounting to £11,855.34 within 12 months.
Oaklands Livestock Centre also ceased trading following our exposé, which will have been a blow to the dairy industry in the Shropshire area and beyond who were sending their 'slaughter calves' to Whittall.
This prosecution has taken months of painstaking work and we are delighted to finally be able to let you know about it. Having witnessed first-hand the abhorrent abuse of tiny calves just a few days old at Oaklands, we knew we couldn’t let Whittall get away with it.
Today we can tell you that our footage not only captured defenseless calves being treated like trash - thrown down trailer and truck ramps; lifted by their tails; kicked in the head; hurled across a pen; kneed in the side; punched; hit with sticks; dragged by their ears; slapped; pushed, and having gates rammed onto their legs, but also Whittall swapping ear tags between calves.
This is a serious offence as it can lead to the spread of tuberculosis (TB). Something badgers have been taking the blame for. We still haven’t been told by Trading Standards why Whittall was swapping ear tags of calves, but we have our suspicions and it's all about profit.
"Following a hard-hitting undercover investigation by our client, Animal Justice Project, we are delighted that Shropshire Council pursued charges which resulted in a conviction, including a 5-year disqualification order from keeping bovine animals" - Edie Bowles, Managing Director & solicitor, Advocates for Animals
The five-month undercover investigation has been a reminder to many that cows are not the only victims of dairy. Tens of thousands of tiny, vulnerable male (bull) calves continue to be killed in slaughterhouses every year. Our footage really hit home for people who were unaware that calves are killed for a glass of milk, or block of cheese.
None of this behind-the-scenes work would be possible without our dedicated supporters. Your donations literally keep our undercover investigators' cameras rolling and ensure we have the funds to pay for the legal fees when required so that we can ensure justice is done. Together, we can work towards a world where animal exploitation is a crime!
For the animals.