The number of 'unwanted' dairy bull calves for export will now be reduced thanks to the UK's largest retailer, Tesco, announcing that calves from their dairy herds will not be allowed to be exported.
Approximately 570,000 male Holstein-Friesian calves are born in the UK per year. Having been born male, the calves are not useful as dairy herd replacements. Currently the fate of many of these calves is that they are shot soon after birth or exported to continental veal farms where the transport and rearing standards seriously compromise their welfare.
In a welcome move, Tesco have announced that from January 2008, each farmer must demonstrate that they either rear their own calves, sell to a known farmer who does not export, or sell the calves into one of their dedicated UK rearing supply chains (high-welfare group housed calf rearing units, all straw bedded).
In 2007, Tesco began selling organic rosé veal and now we see the UK's largest retailer and hundreds of dairy farmers which supply the supermarket committing to no longer exporting calves, meaning the animals could be raised and slaughtered at home. Tesco have also announced that they are phasing out the sale of imported veal.
Michelle Waterman, Agriculture Manager, said "We hope that our new initiative will set an example of what can be done. As we've just announced 930 dairy farmers supplying milk to Tesco have agreed they will no longer export dairy calves. Instead the calves will be used to supply British beef and British veal to shoppers."
Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming, said "We applaud this initiative for providing better lives for calves through higher welfare rearing systems and thereby helping to save them from the inhumane live export trade."
Tesco, is the first of the big four supermarkets to make a significant step that will help bring an end to live calf exports. Marks & Spencer now stocks rosé veal instead of the white veal that is produced by more intensive farming methods, Waitrose is encouraging dairy farmers to keep calves for domestic production and Asda is supporting the use of "single-sex semen" which allows dairy farmers to breed only female calves.
The 'Beyond Calf Exports' stakeholders forum, established in 2006 by Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA, has launched a comprehensive report aiming to encourage domestic rearing of male dairy calves in the UK.
Take Action against calf exports
Please contact your local MP and ask them to sign Early Day Motion 574. EDM 574 urges the Government to press dairy farmers to end the export of calves and calls on the dairy and beef sectors and the Government to work together to develop humane and economically viable uses for male dairy calves in the United Kingdom.
You can email your MP online: