WATCH: 'Already dead', Abattoir rejects cruelty claim
THE owner of Highchester Meats has rejected claims a shocking video shows a worker being cruel to a calf.
Co-owner and director of Highchester Meats says the footage circulated by Animal Liberation Queensland, which shows a man using his foot to restrain a kicking calf, may look like cruelty to the untrained eye - but the calf was already dead.
About 4am today a group of 24 activists gained access to the Highchester abattoir at Gleneagle in the Scenic Rim and staged a demonstration including raising a banner on the facility's roof.
Police were called to negotiated with the protesters who left the property peacefully at 9am.
The activists' message was bolstered by video from inside the abattoir, obtained without the company's knowledge.
Animal Liberation Queensland president Chay Neal said the video was "disgraceful".
The graphic video, part of the Ditch Dairy campaign, shows the worker pressing his boot on the calf as it wriggles wildly before stringing it up by one foot.
Brian Surawski said despite appearances, the calf was already dead when the worker shown in the video pushed his boot into the animal.
The calves come from a nearby dairy.
Mr Surawski said the calf's movements were involuntary, caused by ongoing messages sent through the nervous system after a bolt had gone through the back of the beast's head, as per regulation.
Highchester Meats Pty Ltd is a family owned, small abattoir which kills about 1000 animals a week including about 25 dairy calves, and employs 28 people.
The owners will wear the "considerable cost" of this morning's demonstration which lasted about four hours.
"Unfortunately, this morning about 3.55am, 24 intruders gained unauthorised access to the premises," Mr Surawski said.
"I'm disappointed they didn't just come and have a chat to us.
"We are not into animal cruelty here.
"It does no good for anyone for animals to be stressed when they die. That downgrades the meat quality, so we make sure 100% of our stock is stress free."
Mr Surawski said his team was still reviewing the evidence, but if retraining was required, that would be carried out. "I can't end the dairy industry because I am only one of the players in it," Mr Surawski said.
"What would happen if we didn't kill those calves? They would still be killed on farms and it would be a waste of a resource."
Mr Neal said Animal Liberation Queensland would make a complaint and forward the footage to the police.
No charges were laid against the activists.
POLICE have escorted protesters off the Highchester Abattoir property.
The stand off came to an end at 9am after four hours of disruption.
As part of the demonstration video footage (shown below) was released, showing a man using his foot to restrain a struggling calf.
Animal Liberation Queensland says the video was shot inside the Highchester Abattoir.
"(The video) is absolutely disgraceful," Animal Liberation Queensland president Chay Neal said.
"We will be forwarding the footage to the police and following up this morning's events with a complaint."
Mr Neal said the footage was shown to the police and the abattoir's managers this morning, on site.
No charges were laid against the activists who left the property peacefully.
ACTIVISTS are continuing to block access to the Highchester Abattoir, stopping those arriving from work entering the small facility.
The protesters are calling for managers to sack one worker featured in video footage released by animal rights group Animal Liberation Queensland, which shows a calf being restrained with a man's foot.
Animal Liberation Queensland President Chay Neal said as at 7.45am, the protesters were still inside the facility.
Mr Neal explained calves from a nearby dairy were brought to Highchester to be slaughtered and the footage released by the group shows how some of those calves are treated by workers.
'We want the worker responsible to be fired," Mr Neal said.
"This is also about highlighting the realities of the dairy industry."
He said management had not spoken with the activists but was speaking with police.
The QT has contacted Highchester Abattoir for comment.
POLICE are negotiating with a group of protestors at an abattoir near Ipswich.
The protestors have reportedly been inside the Highchester Abattoir at Gleneagle, since about 5am with the first call made to police at 4.33am.
According to animal welfare group Animal Liberation, the group of 24 activists are responding to the release of footage this month showing cruelty to calves.
Banners held up by the activists read; 'Dairy = torture, rape and murder'.
Police confirmed negotiations were underway but that so far, the display had been peaceful and activists were complying with requests.
Last week, Animal Liberation Queensland released undercover footage it says was shot from inside Highchester Abattoir.
Animal Liberation Queensland President Chay Neal said the footage shows a calf being treated cruelly.
"Activists here today are demanding that the worker caught on film... kicking this calf be fired," Mr Neal said.
"More importantly, we want consumers to realise they have the power to stop other animals like Sammy suffering this fate - by making kinder choices and not supporting the dairy industry."
According to the group, the group of about 20 activists have entered and shut down Highchester slaughterhouse.
More protesters are outside the facility to support the push.