Activists prepare to protest outside Costa Coffee branches across the UK after a damning investigation into their dairy supplier.
The Viva! exhibition, called The True Costa Dairy, revealed “despicable” conditions at Home Farm in Kent. The Red Tractor-approved dairy farm supplies milk to Freshways, which counts Costa as one of its customers.
Nationwide ‘Days of Action’ will take place on 28 January and 11 March 2023. Activists from 40 towns and cities will participate, including Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester.
At the protests, activists will educate the public about the dairy industry, urging them to opt for plant-based milk alternatives.
“In light of the findings of our recent Home Farm investigation, we encourage Costa in the strongest possible terms to get rid of dairy,” said Rory Cockshaw, activist with Viva! Plant Based News. “However, time and time again we see that the power is in the pockets of consumers, which is why we are focusing on changing the hearts and minds of the British public.”
The Home Farm Investigation
A team of researchers found that the cows living at Home Farm were emaciated, lame and had difficulty walking. There were also cases of apparent abuse by workers, with some animals being slapped and pushed.
Live! she saw cows with visible injuries and some in shackles. The use of shackles is quite common in the dairy industry. Cows are artificially inseminated once a year, which greatly affects their bodies. They often suffer from nerve damage, which affects their ability to control their hind legs. The shackles, therefore, prevent them from making the divisions.
Many cows had large udders due to the weight of the milk inside them (dairy cows have been selectively bred to produce about 2.5 times the milk they would naturally produce). One of the animals had a burst and bloody nipple. This, hooray! he told her, it is a medical situation that should have been treated immediately.
The researchers also filmed a sick calf being force-fed through a tube while lying down, which is against guidelines. Home Farm has denied wrongdoing, and Red Tractor says it meets their standards.
Live! the founder and director, Juliet Gellatley, called the conditions on the farm “despicable”. She added: “We are taking to the streets to educate people about the dairy industry: one that profits from exploitation and suffering. We will have positive, judgment-free conversations with Costa Coffee customers, helping them see that dairy alternatives are delicious and pain-free.”
Warning: The following gallery contains graphic photos of animal suffering.
The problem with the red tractor
Red Tractor is a so-called “guarantee label” in the UK, and many people think that certified farms operate to high animal welfare standards.
In fact, however, their welfare standards are not much higher than the legal minimum. Pigs can still have their tails docked without relieving pain, for example, and they can be kept in farrowing crates for six weeks after farrowing. Additionally, numerous investigations at their farms have found non-compliance with their own guidelines.
A 2018/19 Animal Aid investigation found that each of the six Red Tractor pig farms it visited was not only in breach of Red Tractor guidelines, but also of animal welfare laws. Documented violations include workers beating animals with pitchforks.