Oscar-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix has saved a cow and her week-old calf from the slaughterhouse in Los Angeles.

It comes days after an emotional speech from the star about animal rights as he accepted his Oscar for Best Actor for his role in Joker.

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In footage filmed by animal rights activist and Farm Sanctuary president Gene Baur, the actor headed to the Pico Rivera slaughterhouse to see if the owner would give up any animals.

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Phoenix spoke to the slaughterhouse CEO Anthony di Maria about his views on animal welfare.

di Maria said his operation was different from many, as they don't separate the newborn calves from their mothers straight after birth.

Phoenix and his group toured the premises before di Maria allowed him to rescue a cow and her calf.

The star named the cow Liberty and the calf Indigo, then carrying the calf into a trailer.

The animals were then taken to Farm Sanctuary to live.

"I never thought I'd find friendship in a slaughterhouse," Phoenix said.

The actor used his Oscars win to speak out against traditional farming practices. Photo / Nation Earth
The actor used his Oscars win to speak out against traditional farming practices. Photo / Nation Earth

"But meeting Anthony and opening my heart to his, I realise we might have more in common than we do differences.

"Without his act of kindness, Liberty and her baby calf, Indigo, would have met a terrible demise.

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"My hope is, as we watch baby Indigo grow up with her mum Liberty at Farm Sanctuary, that we'll always remember that friendships can emerge in the most unexpected places; and no matter our differences, kindness and compassion should rule everything around us.

"Although we will continue to fight for the liberation of all animals who suffer in these oppressive systems, we must take pause to acknowledge and celebrate the victories, and the people who helped achieve them."

Baur insisted the visit to the slaughterhouse wasn't planned, despite Phoenix's Oscars speech.

The actor said the world needed to turn away from traditional farming practices to something more sustainable.