The animal rights organisation PETA has launched an exposé of a farm owned by the Ontario Water Buffalo Company, following a whistleblower complaint alleging that animals languished from painful ailments in filthy pens. Investigators claim they found the farm forces the animals to endure subfreezing winters in filthy conditions, to exploit them for meat and dairy products, including buffalo mozzarella and other cheeses.
Water buffaloes are native to the tropical and subtropical climates of South and Southeast Asia and have not adapted to tolerate harsh Canadian winters, but despite this, the farm boasts that its animals are “raised how nature intended”, and that they are 100% Grass-Fed.
According to the whistleblower, animals were left to suffer from various ailments and denied adequate care or an end to their suffering. The whistleblower said that a blind calf who couldn’t stand lingered for two weeks before he died, and that expecting mothers had their calves in mud, piles of faeces, or ponds.
PETA investigators saw that calves were taken from their mothers soon after birth and penned within their view and heard a mother repeatedly calling out to her calf. They also found that buffaloes suffered from uterine prolapses, a painful condition in which the animals’ internal reproductive tissue protrudes from their bodies.
Dr. Mary Richardson, former chair of the Ontario Solicitor General’s Animal Care Review Board, viewed PETA’s footage and stated, in part, “Not only do the buffalo show signs of physical distress, but the conditions they are kept in are deplorable.” PETA has submitted evidence of apparent violations of the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act to Ontario’s Animal Welfare Services. Yet five months after the complaint, filth and neglect persisted on the farm.
After hearing from PETA about this farm, in October 2023, the grocery chain Loblaws, which had sold cheese made from these animals’ milk, reported that Quality Cheese, the company that makes Bella Casara buffalo mozzarella, had cut ties with the farm.