Animal agriculture "cannot be trusted to self regulate. We support farmers and think farmers should move away from animal agriculture, that’s all."

Those statements by Daniel Hauff of Mercy For Animals (MFA), an animal rights group out of Chicago, followed his April 20 press conference in Amarillo, TX. During the conference, Hauff showed the vile, horrific video of Holstein calves being bludgeoned to death with a pickax and hammer at a Texas Panhandle calf ranch.

It was a scene no one should stomach – and one massively condemned by industry and ag associations across Texas.

Among the cattle and ag groups condemning the actions depicted in the video were: DairyMax, Independent Cattlemen's Association of Texas, Livestock Market Association of Texas, Texas Association of Dairymen, Texas Beef Council, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

"We encourage and support a full investigation by local authorities," a joint statement by the organizations states. "Good animal care and treatment is an obligation, not an option for farmers and ranchers and we take this responsibility very seriously."

In an MFA news release, Hauff, director of investigations, alleged that "factory-farm" owner Kirt Espenson "required employees to bash in the skulls of calves with hammers" and failed to provide an appropriate alternative for euthanizing of animals. Espenson denies the allegations and says the employees violated animal handling regulations and were terminated.

Hauff says the video was secretly filmed by an MFA employee who hired on at E6 Cattle Co. outside Hart, TX. Hauff says the video was shot between March 2 and March 18. He and MFA personnel turned over the evidence of animal cruelty to the Castro County Sheriff's Department this week.

While stressing that the MFA investigation was to expose animal cruelty, Hauff acknowledged MFA's stance against animal agriculture and the promotion of a vegan lifestyle.

"Animals are the movement of our time," he says.

When asked if people should refrain from eating meat, he said "absolutely." He added that areas like Amarillo, which are heavily involved in livestock production and processing, should "shift to other industries."

Hauff says MFA, which is funded by private donations, operates on a $1.4-million budget and generally conducts one investigation of animal agriculture operations each year. Past investigations have included dairies in Ohio and New York, as well as poultry and swine operations. Hauff claims that in all 13 MFA investigations conducted in the past decade, "every one had animal abuse."

When asked why MFA didn’t advise law enforcement of animal cruelty at E6 after two or three days instead of secretly videoing the operation for more than two weeks, Hauff said, "You have to show whether or not it’s happening, who knew it, who was doing it and how long it was going on. I have no desire to see animals suffer any longer than we have to.

"We didn’t do anything wrong. We provided all this information to law enforcement… We feel animal agriculture cannot be accountable. It cannot be trusted to self regulate."

"Blunt force is specifically prohibited as a means of euthanasia by American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the American Veterinary Medical Association. The euthanasia methods in this video violate these standards," the statement by the agriculture groups said.

"The industry works hard to ensure farmers and ranchers are trained in all areas of animal care and treatment and will continue those efforts.

"We encourage and support a full investigation by local authorities. Good animal care and treatment is an obligation, not an option for farmers and ranchers and we take this responsibility very seriously."

Hauff admits that "I don't know too much about the beef industry. But I know that an egg is an egg," despite how chickens or turkeys are handled.

"Our mission is irrelevant when it comes to how these animals are treated," he says.

(A link to the highly graphic video is available at the MFA site www.mercyforanimals.org/calves/