Cruelty alleged at Colo. facility owned by Tulare firm

This is a screenshot from an video allegedly filmed at a Colorado cattle facility owned by a Tulare firm of young calves being roughly loaded into trailers.This is a screenshot from an video allegedly filmed at a Colorado cattle facility owned by a Tulare firm of young calves being roughly loaded into trailers.Compassion Over Killing, a national animal rights organization, has released undercover video allegedly filmed this year at a Colorado calve holding facility that is owned by Tulare feed manufacturing company J.D. Heiskell & Co.

Compassion Over Killing published the video on YouTube.com Wednesday. In a news release, the organization said the video reveals cruel and inhumane treatment of dairy calves that are days old.

Katie Vann, a spokesperson for Compassion Over Killing, said the cows were in a holding facility operated by Quanah Cattle Co. of Kersey, Colo., prior to being shipped to another facility to be raised and ultimately slaughtered.

The video shows workers dragging, kicking and pulling calves by the tail and ears as they are loaded into and out of trailers.

Messages for J. D. Heiskell President Scot Hillman seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, said her organization believes the video shows violations of Colorado’s animal protection laws. “We’re calling on local authorities to file charges, making it clear such egregious animal abuse is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Meier said in a statement.

The video was reportedly made by a Compassion Over Killing investigator while working at Quanah Cattle Co. J.D. Heiskell opened the 15,000-calve facility last year.

J.D. Heiskell, founded in 1886, is a fourth-generation family business that has grown into the fourth-largest feed manufacturing company by volume in the United States.

It has operations in 12 states, according to its website.

J.D. Heiskell ranked No. 3 on The Business Journal’s list of Oldest Family-Owned Businesses in the Central Valley published on April 26. The company reported 409 employees at that time.

Compassion Over Killing is the same group that released undercover footage of animal abuse from Hanford's Central Valley Meat Co. last year. Backlash from the footage led to In-N-Out Burger, McDonald's and Costco severing ties with the company. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also stopped buying meat from the company for a period.

California Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) proposed legislation last year that would have limited such undercover farm animal abuse investigations by requiring those collecting such evidence to turn it over to law enforcement within 48 hours. Patterson later pulled the legislation.