Search icon

Unwanted calves: Technology helps

News Section Icon Published 18/09/2008

The results of a report released on 17 September 2008 by the SAC Dairy Research Centre present a strong business case for the use of sexed semen- a breeding technology allowing farmers to select the sex of calves prior to mating.

The new report, "The efficacy, economics and practicalities of sexed semen as a welfare-friendly herd replacement tool in the dairy industry" was commissioned by Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA as part of the Beyond Calf Exports Stakeholder Forum, and comes on the day of the National Dairy Event.

Dairy cows grazing

The use of this particular technology not only makes good business sense for farmers, but also represents a good prospect for animal welfare: fewer male dairy calves will be born and will not have to face the dreadful destiny of being killed on the farm shortly after birth or exported to continental veal systems.


Dairy herd

In terms of the UK dairy or beef industry, there is little to suggest any significant problems arising from a switch to sexed semen. On the contrary, the technology would reduce the number of low value male dairy calves and increase the number of more valuable beef cross calves for the beef industry.

The other part of the equation to reduce the number of 'unwanted' calves is to evolve supply chains to ensure that remaining dairy bull calves are reared for beef in higher welfare systems in Britain.

The Beyond Calf Exports stakeholder forum has been crucial in finding answers to the problem of male dairy calves. Both retailers and farming industries are working together to join up the supply chain and together overcome this problem.

More information

Learn more about the Beyond Calf Exports Forum and how you can help.

Compassion in World Farming is working hard to reduce the number of unwanted dairy calves facing export or slaughter because we believe farm animals should not, and need not, suffer.

If you agree, please support us today.


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).