The Ben & Franklin investigation

The Ben & Franklin investigation
Copyright Carol Slater Photography

In August 2011 Farm Animal Rescue conducted a routine investigation of a sale yard. While at the sale yard, we met Ben and Franklin, two tiny 5 day old calves who had been born on dairy farms.

Both Ben and Franklin were born on Tuesday. After a few short hours with their mothers, the babies were dragged away from their mothers side so that the mother’s milk could be taken for human consumption.

Being males, the farm had no use for the two little calves, and so the farmer kept them in a small paddock until sale day, the following Monday. They could hear their mother mooing for them from down the lane, but they could not find a way to get to her, so they simply mooed back.

On Sunday night at 10pm, Ben and Franklin were awoken with pails of food. Both chowed down, it wasn’t as good as their mother’s milk would have been, but it was the next best thing.

Then at 3am, after a little drink of water, the two tiny calves were herded onto the back of a pick up truck and began their journey to the sale yard. It was very cold being winter and the two shivered as they travelled down the highway at 100km/hr.

They arrived at the sale yard at 7am, and were then herded off the vehicle and down a steep slope to a tiny corral. Both when they arrived looked for some food or water but there was no access to either inside their tiny enclosure.

The pair began to moo because they were hungry and thirsty. They mooed until about 9.30, but by then they felt too fatigued to continue searching for food and simply laid down on the rocky ground beneath them.

There was no cover over their enclosure, so as the sun moved higher the two became more uncomfortable being as they couldn’t escape from the intense heat that was beating down on them, still with no food or water for sustenance.

A number of farmers stopped by their enclosure and poked at them with sticks until they stood up. Franklin was very tiny, and stood only three feet high. Ben was taller but his shaky and fragile legs made standing difficult.

Eventually at 12.30pm the calf sale began. Calves born on beef farms were selling for around $200 each. These would be taken to pasture where they could be fattened for beef.

However, the calves born on dairy farms were selling for about $30 each. Dairy calves are born weak because their mothers are unable to provide sufficient nutrients to their babies, most of the mother’s nutrition goes to the milk she is producing for the farmer.

Ben and Franklin achieved a sale price of $30 each and were marked with the letters ‘AB’. The humans at the market new that Ben and Franklin had been bought by a slaughterhouse (abattoir), but the two baby calves were just hot, thirsty and hungry, and wanted to be with their mothers again.

At 1.30pm Ben and Franklin were herded onto a truck with 60 other baby calves. They both tripped as they made their way up the steep ramp to the top deck as the bottom part of the truck was filled with pigs, also making their way to slaughter.

The truck drove for two hours before arriving at the slaughterhouse yard. After another difficult journey down a steep ramp the two found themselves crowded into an enclosure. Their continuing search for food and water was again in vain.

Eventually they were individually herded into a tiny box where a bolt was shot into their tiny skulls. We hope that this was the end of Ben and Franklin’s short 7 day lives, and that they were not one of the 10% (estimate, reliable Australian records do not exist) that return to consciousness while hanging from the conveyor system.

How You Can Help

  1. Sign up for our email alerts. We have contacted the Dept. of Agriculture about the need for water to be available to sale yard animals, and we may need your help when they respond.
  2. Donate to our investigations fund, so that we can continue to uncover cruelty in the Australian animal agriculture industry.
  3. Avoid buying goods that fund the dairy industry, including milk, cheese, yoghurt, ground beef, hamburger, leather and TV dinners that contain “white” beef. Three baby calves are slaughtered for every person who buys dairy products, so try soy, rice, coconut or nut based products instead and save a life!
  4. Join the Aussie Walk for Farm Animals, a fun day out that raises money for our investigation and education funds, as well as providing much needed funding to farmed animal sanctuaries.

Our monitoring of Ben and Franklin determined that both were without food and water for 15 hours. Current law permits calves to be starved for 10 hours prior to slaughter.

Our investigation determined that the starvation law at this and many other sale yards is routinely ignored. Ben and Franklin were two tiny baby calves subjected to unnecessary cruelty because the industry does not want to waste money and feed on animals that have such a low market value.

We think Ben & Franklin were two tiny precious babies that needed care and protection, and received neither.