The undercover work was carried out by animal welfare organisations SAFE and Farmwatch, which began investigations into the dairy industry in August, setting up hidden cameras across 12 farms and one slaughterhouse.

The video shows harrowing mistreatment of what are known as bobby calves – dairy calves that are disposed of after their mother gives birth. SAFE executive director Hans Kriek said that each season more than two million unwanted calves were killed as young as four days old.

“In order for a cow to produce milk, she first has to produce a calf, and these calves are often surplus to requirement by the industry, so they are removed from the mothers quickly after birth and many of these calves are then taken to the slaughterhouse,” Kriek said.

According to NZFarmer.co.nz, New Zealand’s largest dairy processor Fonterra condemned the footage and in a statement said immediate steps to deal with abuse were being taken, including meeting with SAFE and corresponding with representatives from the meat industry to discuss the abuse.

“While bobby calves will always be part of the dairy industry, they must be treated with care and respect. Behaviour in this footage in no way represents the vast majority of New Zealand farmers who care about their animals,” the statement read.

The video below, which does not make for easy viewing, shows men throwing calves viciously into trucks, kicking them and slitting their throats:

Warning: this video contains graphic footage of animal cruelty

The dark side of the NZ Dairy Industry from Farmwatch on Vimeo.