Investigators arrived at the weekly cattle sale held at the Shipshewana, IN auction at 10:52 AM. The auction was already very busy. None of the pens observed contained food or water. It was a humid day and many of the cows were foaming around the mouth and showing signs of dehydration. The majority of the cows were Holstein dairy cows and dozens were in very bad shape with BCS 1.
Upon our arrival, a Holstein (tag# 2345) was down in the “slow” pen. She was very weak, emaciated and lame favoring her right hind leg. Another Holstein (tag# 2344) was very weak, emaciated and lame on her right hind leg. She was having trouble walking and standing and went down in the pen. At 12:19 PM, tag #2345 was still down and another very weak Holstein cow (tag# 2497) arrived. She had difficulty walking, lame on her right hind leg and had an extremely large utter. Shortly thereafter, another cow (tag# 2441) arrived lame on her right hind leg.
At 12:50 PM, two Holstein calves arrived injured. One (tag# 679) walked on 3 legs because the left front knee was severely swollen. The second (tag# 089) also walked on 3 legs due to an injured left hind leg. At 1:15 PM, yet another Holstein (tag# 2272) arrived lame on her right hind leg.
All these animals should not have been brought to the auction in this condition. Unfortunately, we observe across the country that farmers wait to the very last minute to bring their so-called “spent” cows to the auction, instead of delivering them when they are still able to walk without a problem.
At 2:07 PM, a young worker began moving cows out of a pen that contained both cows and calves. When the animals were in the alley, the worker began to run the animals down the alley, and a small Holstein calf was run over by one of the cows. After the worker cleared the alley of the animals, he came back to the calf and began poking it with a stick and yelling for it to get up. When the calf was unable to get up he began pushing it with his foot. When confronted by investigators, the worker walked off and left the calf laying in the alley. An older worker came up the alley and stopped at the calf. He asked the younger worker what was wrong and the younger worker informed the man that the calf wouldn’t get up. The older worker dragged the calf into an empty pen to get it out of the alley and spoke to another man. A minute later a New Holland skid loader appeared and the man put the calf into the bucket. As the skid loader was going down the alley, the calf fell out of the bucket and had to be put back in. The calf was then transported to a back pen and dumped. Investigators checked on the calf throughout the day and after the auction ended the investigators found that the calf was able to stand.
At 5:30 PM, a worker began moving the cows out of the slow pen to the auction ring. All of the cows managed to get up except one. She was left in the pens and the investigators stayed with her. The worker returned with an electric prod to try and get her moving but because the investigators were there, he did not use it. He returned to the auction ring and left her alone and she was not sold. The conditions found at Shipshewana are completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, previous visits show that these conditions are standard methods of doing business at this auction. Animals’ Angels will continue to expose this auction and file complaints until handling and conditions improve.