Dairy farmers have reacted “with revulsion” to reports of an alleged animal welfare breach at a holding facility for calves near Cherbourg in France.

A man has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of cruelty to calves following the emergence of a video online in recent days.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has also “condemned” any acts of ill treatment of livestock in relation to the matter.

The incident is believed to have occurred in Tollevast, near Cherbourg, where calves were unloaded.

In a statement to AgriLand, Pat McCormack, the president of Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), said that parts of the footage were “sickening“.

It is completely unacceptable to see calves – or any stock – being abused and mistreated in this way.

“Anyone guilty of mistreating animals should be prosecuted under the relevant legislation, punished accordingly, and then issued with lifetime bans from any involvement with livestock.

He said that he understood the individual featured most prominently had been detained by authorities.

All farmers would react to the footage and reports with exactly the same sense of revulsion as anyone else.

The video, recorded in a joint move between French and Dutch animal welfare groups, was published on social media yesterday, Thursday, April 2.

The groups claim that the calves featured in the footage originated in Ireland and were being transported to the Netherlands.

According to local publication Le Dauphine, the footage is being used by French authorities for prosecution.

“According to the first elements of the investigation, it is an isolated act,” the prosecutor Yves le Clair allegedly told the publication.

“As it stands, my investigation is about acts of cruelty by an individual and not about the operation of the company,” Le Clair told Le Dauphine.

Strict Welfare Controls

In a statement the department said it: “condemns in the strongest terms any ill treatment of livestock and would urge any persons who have direct knowledge or evidence of breaches of animal welfare to report it directly to the relevant authorities without any delay”.

In relation to the export of live animals, Ireland applies strict controls in relation to the welfare of animals including during transport and has procedures and checks in place to ensure compliance with EU and national legislation.

Prior to export all livestock undergo an animal health and welfare check carried out by a department official veterinarian to ensure that only fit and healthy livestock are certified for export.

“All trucks are inspected and checked for water, spacing and other legislative requirements prior to departure. Where non-compliance is identified, appropriate remedial action is taken,” the spokesperson concluded.