TRADING standards officers have found no evidence that a Purbeck farm neglected its calves by rearing them in tiny pens.
Animal Equality UK reported Grange Dairy in East Chaldon – owned by J F Cobb and Sons – for housing around 1,000 calves in rows upon rows of solitary pens.
The animal welfare charity claimed the huts were too small for many of the animals.
But an inspection by Dorset County Council trading standards confirmed there had been no breach of animal welfare.
A spokesperson said: “Our animal health team has carefully considered all the allegations made, visited and inspected the premises concerned and are satisfied that there is no evidence of any breaches of welfare requirements.”
Farm partner Nick Cobb said: “As a family farming business, we care passionately about our livestock and all our energy is focused on keeping our cattle comfortable and healthy.
“We work closely with vets and industry welfare experts to establish the best approach to looking after our animals and our health and welfare performance is industry-leading.
“Our animals are under close veterinary supervision and there is no suggestion that the health and welfare of our animals has been compromised.
“We have been in liaison with Marks & Spencer and our milk buyer over this matter and last week spot audits were undertaken, including from Trading Standards. All of these audits were passed successfully, with no concerns over animal welfare.”
A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer said: “We were very disappointed to see the images; any breach of our standards is completely unacceptable. Our experts have been on site and worked with the farm to take action and address the situation. We work hard to uphold the highest welfare standards which is recognised by animal welfare charities.”
Animal Equality UK captured photographs and video footage of the calves. Their executive director, Dr Toni Shephard, disputed trading standards’ findings.
She said: “Seeing row after row of baby calves alone in tiny pens – when they should naturally still be with their mothers – is truly heartbreaking.
“UK animal welfare law recognises how vitally important exercise and social interaction is for calves and restricts solitary housing to just eight weeks, yet on this farm Animal Equality found female calves as old as six months cramped and suffering in individual pens.”