Nov. 10 (UPI) -- A Florida dairy farm is under criminal investigation after the release of an undercover video showing employees beating cows, police said Thursday.
The video, released by the Animal Recovery Mission, showed workers at the Larson Dairy Farm in Okeechobee, Fla., beating dairy cows with steel rods and kicking and stabbing them. The farm is a major supplier to Publix, one of the largest grocery store chains in the nation.
"Larson Dairy cows are milked, tormented and beaten three times a day, 305 days a year for life," a narrator says in the video.
The video also shows calves confined in small cages and lying in their own feces, as well as a pile of dead calves stacked against a wall.
"Newborn calves suffer alone and confined in inadequate shelter," the narrator says. "Many calves quickly succumb to the life at the Larson Dairy Farm."
Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen said he assigned an investigator to the case and expects charges to be filed. Noel also said he personally knows and defends the owners of the Larson Dairy Farm.
"I stand before you to say that these gentlemen would not condone this activity and had they known about it, they would have fired them on the spot," Noel said, according to WPBF-TV.
Farm owner Jacob Larson said one of the employees shown in the video has been fired.
"The unusual use of force is simply unacceptable on our dairy or on any other farm," he said, according to the Sun-Sentinel
ARM lead investigator Richard Cuoto said it's unlikely the company didn't know about the abuse. The video was taken by an undercover employee who said the use of abusive tactics on cows was the norm.
"Many of the cows that were brought to that milking station and put in line to have milkers put onto those udders were controlled violently," Cuoto said, according to CBS12 News.