A Carmarthenshire farm is facing investigation after its cows were filmed being punched, kicked and hit with metal shovels.

Following Tuesday's distressing edition of Panorama, where millions of viewers were shown footage which had been filmed covertly by an international animal protection organisation Animal Equality, a spokesperson at Carmarthenshire County Council's animal health department confirmed that an investgation is now underway at Madox Farm, near Trelech.

"This showed some of the most alarming animal neglect and abuse that I've ever encountered," commented leading veterinary surgeon Marc Abraham, OBE, following Tuesday's programme. 

"There are a number of concerning incidents where appropriate medical care was not provided to sick, lame and injured cows, as well as several occasions where cows were struck violently and repeatedly.  There is no doubt in my mind that these cows would have suffered significantly and that their prolonged pain was entirely avoidable.”

Meanwhile, Excutive Director of Animal Equality Abigail Penny is urging the authorities to hold the farm accountable for what she describes as it's "abusive actions towards animals".

She said:

"A conviction of cruelty won’t help those cows who were brutally beaten or left to die in agony overnight, but it will send a strong message to this industry that the UK will not tolerate such cruelty.

"We’re fed a fairy-tale about dairy farming, but the reality is far darker. Consumers are being conned.”

The Panorama footage was filmed in late 2021 by an Animal Equality investigator over several months, where workers were seen kicking and punching cows in the face and stomach, and hitting them with sharp, metal shovels. It also shows cows that were unable to stand being lifted by their hips and dragged against the concrete floor.

The farm supplies milk to Freshways, the UK’s largest independent dairy processor and wholesaler and which distributes dairy products to a number of established retailers and businesses, including Costa Coffee, British Airways, Londis, Budgens and P&O Cruises.

Freshways also supplies Morrisons’ wholesale operation, which supplies products to restaurants, cafés and Amazon Fresh.

But according to Animal Equality, the Madox Farm incident isn't isolated.

Over the past six years Animal Equality UK has investigated four dairy farms and has uncovered what it says is prolonged animal suffering, deliberate abuse and neglect, or illegality taking place on each one. 

Animal Equality UK says up to 50 per cent of dairy cows suffer from painful infections, such as mastitis, due to the unnatural milk yields that place strain upon their udders.

The dairy industry produces 15 billion litres of milk annually, worth £9.2 billion to the economy while the average yield for a dairy cow is 40 per cent higher than it was 30 years ago - around 23 to 24 litres a day.

Cows used for dairy in the UK are typically sent to slaughter at three or four years old for cheap beef as they are considered ‘spent’ by the industry due to their reduced milk production.

Meanwhile the legal firm Advocates for Animals has submitted a complaint on behalf of Animal Equality UK to Carmarthenshire County Council. 

Edie Bowles, solicitor at Advocates for Animals, said: “The treatment of cows at Madox Farm is in clear contravention of the law. Not only are there incidents of direct violence towards cows, there is a culture of neglect and substandard care causing gross suffering, all of which is contrary to the Animal Welfare legislation."

Lawyers for Madox Farm, where the filming took place, told BBC Panorama that if workers had abused cows, a disciplinary process would begin immediately. They added that the farm owner continues to invest in the health and welfare of his herd.