8 discoveries show that Alvoar’s suppliers violate good practices set by the IFC
NGO calls on the private arm of the World Bank Group to be coherent and decline a loan to the Brazilian dairy giant
An investigation conducted by international NGO Sinergia Animal revealed controversial practices against animals in Alvoar Lacteos’ milk supply chain. The company could be soon receiving a 32 million USD loan from the World Bank Group’s private arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Sinergia Animal's analysis provides evidence that these practices violate several animal welfare standards established as good practices by the IFC, and urges the financial institution to withhold the loan.
IFC good practice: “Accommodation should allow all animals to directly interact with herd or flock mates, unless isolated for veterinary or nursing reasons”
At two different farms that supply Alvoar, investigators found female calves confined in crates that had their sides totally blocked by a metal sheet. This means that these animals have no interaction with their flock mates for up to 80 days after birth, although there is no veterinary or nursing reason for it.
It is important to highlight that these crates also violate standards set by the European Union, which state that “individual pens for calves (except those for isolating sick animals) must not have solid walls, but perforated walls which allow the calves to have direct visual and tactile contact”.
EU standards also require that calves are not kept in individual crates for more than eight weeks. But in one Alvoar supplying farm, investigators were told that calves are isolated in this confinement system for up to 11.5 weeks (80 days).
IFC good practice: “Housing should be constructed of fire-resistant materials”
Again, in two different suppliers of Alvoar, investigators found calves confined in individual pens made of wood, which is not a fire-resistant material. As the animals are locked in these crates, they would be at a high risk of being burned alive in the case of a fire.
IFC good practice: “All animals should have access to a clean and dry place within the confinement area”
At least one supplier of Alvoar uses very small crates for female calves, and some were found to be dirty and wet with manure. One calf had lost hair from its back legs because of diarrhea. The farmer admitted these cages are not ideal, as they have hygiene problems and can lead to more diseases.
One farmer told us: “These are very hot cages, and they smell a lot ... Yes, this calf has diarrhea. As these cages get dirty, the bedding gets dense (compacted). In these crates, we also have more problems with pneumonia and diarrhea … These cages are really bad.”
These cages also look as if they would be illegal in EU member countries, as they are too narrow. EU standards state that “the width of any individual pen for a calf shall be at least equal to the height of the calf at the withers, measured in the standing position”. In Alvoar’s suppliers, the pens are so small the calves cannot even turn around easily.
IFC good practice: “Animals should be protected from predators, vermin, and excessive noise”
In at least one Alvoar supplier, male calves are tethered soon after birth and may stay chained for days, in open and unfenced fields, until a truck comes to take them to slaughter. This farmer admits that he doesn’t do the same to female calves, because they are at risk of being attacked by vultures. Female calves are “protected” because they are a valuable resource for dairy farms, since they produce milk, unlike male calves, which are considered undesired “leftovers” of the milk production industry.
IFC good practice: “Animals with access to, or living outdoors should have access to shade and shelter”
Newborn male calves chained by this Alvoar supplier only have a tiny "house" as shelter, which is clearly not sufficient to protect them from heavy rain and extreme temperatures. The farmer admits that this is not an ideal housing system, and that is why he keeps female calves in closed crates.
One farmer told our field investigator: “Can you imagine what happens in the rainy season? You have a newborn calf and you put it under rain, hot sun, dirty, mixing up food with dirt and mud. We are talking about a newborn with low immunity.”
This practice of tethering (chaining) calves for many hours and days is also illegal in the EU: “calves must not be tethered, with the exception of group-housed calves which may be tethered for periods of not more than one hour at the time of feeding milk or milk substitute.”
IFC good practice: “Provision should be made for care of animals during the journey and at the destination”
Although transport conditions of newborn male calves from supplying farms to legal slaughterhouses or illegal "home slaughter" sites could not be documented at Alvoar suppliers, it is very likely that these small and fragile animals are transported in trucks that are made for adult bovines.
This was observed by Sinergia Animal’s investigators in Minas Gerais state, where many Alvoar suppliers are located. It is very likely that these animals are transported in inadequate conditions, including in temperatures that can put them at heat stress. According to EU guidelines, young calves should not be transported at temperatures higher than 25 celsius degrees, and temperatures in Brazil often exceed 30 celsius degrees.
IFC good practice: “Particular care should be taken with fatigued, old, young, infirm, pregnant, and/or nursing animals” and “All animals must be handled, restrained, rendered unconscious until death, and slaughtered in the least distressing and most pain-free manner possible by trained and competent staff”
Young and newborn calves are heavily abused animals in dairy production at Alvoar’s suppliers. This investigation shows that they are poorly fed and killed only hours or days after birth, in slaughterhouses that are legal but which may fail to properly restrain and stun the animals.
According to animal welfare experts, the calf slaughtered in the investigation video was not properly restrained and the stun gun was not placed in the correct spot on his head. This means that there is a chance that he was conscious and feeling pain while being hung and killed.
The investigation also collected evidence that calves born on Alvoar suppliers farms may be donated and killed outside legal slaughterhouses. A survey conducted in Brazil shows that, outside legal slaughterhouses, it is common for newborn calves to be slaughtered via head trauma (through blows to the head), bleeding, and asphyxia.
IFC good practice: “Non-ambulatory and other unfit animals must be promptly and humanely euthanized on-site”
Two Alvoar suppliers admitted they do not humanely euthanize "downed" cows (that can no longer walk) on site. Instead, they sell them to slaughter, including to people who may slaughter them outside legal slaughterhouses. To be transported elsewhere, they are lifted by tractors, a practice that can cause them fear, stress, and pain.
It would be wrong for the IFC to finance operations that violate their own good practices and cause so much suffering and distress to animals.