GREENLEAF, WI (WTAQ) - An animal rights group has released video and photos detailing abuse of farm animals at the Wiese Brothers farm in Greenleaf.
The group, Mercy for Animals, made the undercover video showing dairy cattle being beaten and dragged with forklifts.
In response to the video, the Wiese family has issued a statement about the animal abuse claims:
"Wiese Brothers Farm is family owned and has been in the business of providing the highest quality milk for nearly two decades. On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, we became aware of video footage taken on our farm this fall. We are shocked and saddened to see a few of our employees not following our farm’s policies for proper animal care. We have zero tolerance for animal abuse. We are committed to providing optimal care and ask all our employees to demonstrate ongoing respect for every animal at all times.
We are dedicated not only to producing the highest quality milk, but also providing the best care for our animals through every stage of their lives. Because of our commitment to our cows, we work closely with veterinarians and dairy experts to ensure proper care, feeding, and management of our dairy cattle.
Our family has taken the following steps to address the situation:
• We are cooperating fully with the local law enforcement.
• Two employees have been terminated. A third employee has been removed from animal handling responsibilities. Further action will be taken if the investigation warrants it. Additionally, three employees have been identified as specialists who will supervise the care and handling of any cow unable to get up without assistance.
• Within 24 hours after learning about the video, an independent animal care auditor from a national evaluation firm conducted a thorough review of our farm’s written protocols for animal handling and observed farm employees and the condition of our animals. While they noted a few areas for improvement, their overall analysis indicated our animals are clean, well cared for and treated appropriately by employees.
• Beginning in early 2012, each of our employees reviewed and signed an animal treatment commitment pledge as part of the hiring process and condition of employment. We have updated that commitment and shared it with the employees who work in the special needs hospital area.
• Employees will be shadowed by their supervisor periodically, and without notice, to ensure protocols in place are being met or exceeded.
Each of these actions, along with any others we add as appropriate, will help us ensure the behaviors seen in this video are never repeated on our farm.
The Wiese Family"
Meantime, the maker of DiGiorno frozen pizza has stopped taking milk from the Wiese Brothers farm. Nestle USA owns DiGiorno, the nation's largest frozen pizza maker.
The firm issued a statement Tuesday morning that Nestle is, "outraged and deeply saddened by the mistreatment of animals shown" in the video.
The Wiese farm supplies cheese to Foremost Farms of Baraboo, which then sells it to DiGiorno. Nestle said it advised Foremost not to provide any more cheese from the farm.
(**WARNING: Video contains language and images that some may find offensive. Additional reporting from Wheeler News Service.)