An animal rights group has recorded shocking video of animal abuse at a British Columbia dairy farm, in which employees can be seen punching and kicking cows.

A member of the non-profit Mercy for Animals Canada went undercover for four weeks at Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd., and discovered what has been described as “horrific animal abuse.”

Observations and video footage recorded at the dairy farm between April 30 and May 30 list numerous incidents of alleged animal abuse, including the use of chains, canes, rakes and other objects to hit and beat cows.

“The workers have no regard for the welfare of the animal,” Anna Pippus of Mercy for Animals told CTV News. “In fact, they seem malicious to them.”

In addition to the abuse, the group also documented several cows bearing signs of injury and distress.

The B.C. Society for the Protection of Animals has launched an investigation and recommended that animal cruelty charges be laid against eight workers seen in the video.

Those workers have now been suspended with pay.

When CTV showed the disturbing video footage to one of the farm’s owners, Jeff Kooyman, he said he was “shocked.”

Kooyman said his farm has zero tolerance for animal cruelty and claimed he had no idea his staff were allegedly abusing the cows.

“I am shocked. I don’t know what to say,” he said.

In a news release issued Monday, the Kooyman family said it is “devastated by the thought that animals in our care have been harmed.”

The family said animal care is “of primary importance” on the Chilliwack farm.

“We have been working with the BC SPCA and regulatory authorities and will continue to do so throughout the investigation. In addition, we will be taking any and all steps necessary to assure that no such incident takes place on our family farm in the future,” the statement read.

“These alleged actions in no way reflect the farming and animal care standards practiced by our family or by the dairy industry.”

The milk from Kooyman’s farm is purchased by Saputo, a large corporation that sells dairy products across the country.

Leanne McConnachie of farm animal programs at the Vancouver Humane Society says Saputo should do more to ensure its products are ethically sound.

“All of these people have a vested interest in this plant operation and yet none of them are there to stop this abuse,” she said.

With a report from CTV’s Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy