Claire, a downer cow destined for slaughter

The following post was written by Anne, coordinator for CETFA’s investigations and rescue team, Western region.

Photo: Anne/CETFA

Claire was spotted hidden away in the back of a livestock auction, forced to lie in excrement and mud. Although she was in great pain and could not get up, the auction had accepted her and planned to ship her to a major slaughterhouse two days later. Unable to move and follow workers’ orders, Claire would be kicked or beaten with an electric prod onto a transport truck, pulled, pushed or dragged aboard the truck, and likely trampled by other cows on the way to the slaughterhouse.

A CETFA volunteer inspector present at the auction brought water to Claire, who drank without hesitation: not able to stand, she could not reach the water trough. The inspector advocated at length for Claire’s well-being, finally convincing the auction house to do what they were legally required to do – euthanize Claire to bring an end to her suffering. Claire’s suffering ended because there was someone there that day to be a voice for her.

Photo: Anne/CETFA

Sadly, this event is not an isolated incident. From our experience, the dairy industry produces the highest rate of downer animals in Canada (animals too sick, diseased or injured to stand).  A federal government study showed “spent” dairy cows are in transit from farm of origin to slaughterhouse for an average of 3 weeks.  During this time they are often taken from auction to auction and will pass through the hands of many buyers until they get the highest price they can squeeze out of them. At each auction, the provision of food and water is at the discretion of auction workers and never guaranteed.

Dairy cows are some of the saddest animals our inspectors see at livestock auctions.


To learn more about the life of a Dairy Cow, please visit:

To see photos of ‘spent’ Dairy Cows at auctions, please visit:

Cull dairy cow at auction in Ontario

About cetfa

Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals (CETFA) is an investigative and educational organization established to examine intensive farming practices, with particular attention to abusive practices; hazards to human health; environmental impacts; and the role of power politics in maintaining the system while withholding public access to factual information. We seek to address these interconnected issues through investigation, education and advocacy of the compassionate treatment of farmed animals.
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2 Responses to Claire, a downer cow destined for slaughter

  1. Catherine K says:

    It’s dispicable the way farmed animals are treated. And all this for products (meat & milk) that is not only unneccessary it is all too often harmful to human health. When it comes to milk, what is it that makes us think we are the only mammal that needs the milk of another mammal in our adulthood? Why? because we’ve been convinced that we need it by extensive & targeted advertisement…

  2. Nisha Ram says:

    I have been a vegetarian since birth, and have had so much dairy in my first 25 years of life.. Dairy of one form or other has been an essential part of our diet. Things were different in the part of the world where I was born, esp in the 80s and 90s… My conscience wouldn’t let me have dairy products after knowing what happens to them.. I wouldn’t wanna be the reason for killing a “mother”… not after knowing why and how!

    I hope people realize what goes on behind every closed farm door .. A lot of people are ignorant.. They just don’t know, or don’t wish to know… We who know, would have to spread awareness.. We have to make them listen to us…

    Hope there is a day in this world soon enough, where animals – every single one of them, are given respect for what they give us humans unconditionally….

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