Veal calves being prepared for transport across Europe have been filmed being beaten and jumped on in leaked footage.
The animals which started their journey in Ireland, were attacked by workers at a resting area for live exports in France.
The young cows can be seen being brutally struck with sticks, pushed aggressively by workers and in one extreme scene a man jumps up and down on the back of a calf as it struggles on the floor.
The clip was filmed in a centre near Cherbourg, France and shows the animals being violently treatd.
According to animal rights groups, L214 and Eyes on Animals, the centre has been certified by the EU as a "high-quality" one, having received subsidies for renovations.
In a statement, the groups state that the animals at the centre in Cherbourg had already endured an 18 hour journey from Rosslare in Ireland.
They carried out their investigation over three weeks and revealed at least 2,500 calves were unloaded at the centre every 12 hours before being reloaded for journeys to Dutch veal farms.
L214 and Eyes on Animals are lobbying the EU to ban all transport of unweaned animals.
According to the Independent, the witnesses, who followed 23 lorry-loads of animals last month, said calves were routinely transported over the maximum journey time of 19 hours and on lorries with inadequate drinking systems
Nicola Glen, of Eyes on Animals, said: “The calves were suffering stomach upsets, especially diarrhoea, and were already very weak, suffering exhaustion, lack of feed, lack of water and lack of rest due to overcrowding.”
Sébastien Arsac, co-founder of the L214 association, said: "The transport of young calves over long distances is intolerable.
"These calves, just out of their mother's womb, endure more than 50 hours of transport in terrible conditions: piled up to 300 in 3-level livestock, thirsty, manipulated with violence, they live a real hell.
"The European Union must stop the transport of unweaned calves and other infant animals. As consumers, we can act directly by replacing dairy products with plant alternatives as much as possible. "
French media has reported that one man has been arrested for cruelty.
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