How "downers" get into the meat

Now that the public has seen this Humane Society footage, it’s horrific but it’s not exceptional,” said Keith Mohler, a Humane Society officer in Pennsylvania who has led prosecutions in farm animal mistreatment cases. “It’s great that it was brought out, but it’s not uncommon.”

Dairy cows that are done giving milk make up about 17 percent of America’s annual beef slaughter, according to the Humane Society of the United States, which videotaped the cow abuses at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. in Chino, Calif.

Prices for “culled” dairy cows can be half to about a tenth of the price of a fully fed steer in the beef market. The reason for the discount is that some dairy cows go to slaughter plants in rough shape. Typically, they have often been milked for several years, leaving their bodies without the muscle, fat and calcium of grazing, well-fed beef cattle. Some dairy cows appear emaciated when they are sold to slaughter plants, their hides stretched tight over their hindquarters and ribs.


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