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Because calves are worth it

News Section Icon Published 03/06/2009

In the 03 June episode of River Cottage, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall showed some of Compassion in World Farming's footage to expose the way calves are reared in the UK and in continental Europe.

The celebrity chef, who is famous for his campaign for the welfare of meat chickens, exposed the difference in welfare standards for calves reared in the UK and abroad, together with the suffering related to long distance transport for animals.

Calf Life - wanted not wasted

Calf welfare depends on the rearing system and diet. Some veal can be considered higher welfare. In extensive outdoor or indoor production, such as Soil Association organic, calves are reared in small groups in straw-bedded barns. They receive adequate space allowance per calf and may have access to the outdoors. They are fed a normal diet for growing calves, without restriction of iron intake and solid food.

In the best systems, the calves are able to suckle from an older cow retired from the dairy herd. These systems provide greater comfort, reduced risk of injury and better opportunities for natural behaviour, social interaction and exercise.

UK law requires that all calves are provided with bedding and double the amount of fibrous food for young calves compared with EU requirements. Older UK calves have greater space allowance than stipulated in EU law. Their diet must provide a minimum amount of iron equal to the EU minimum.

Sarah Halevy, Campaigns Co-ordinator at Compassion in World Farming, says: "Around half a million male dairy calves are born every year in the UK. Compassion in World Farming believes these animals should be reared under the highest welfare standard possible. But all too often they're not.. Still too many are considered a wasteful by-product and shot at birth."

"Many pure-bred male dairy calves, such as Holstein, are not well suited for beef production, and only a small number of calves are reared in the UK for veal. Yet, 28% of the British population eats veal (YouGov 2009). Most of this comes from intensive rearing units on the continent and is sold in restaurants and butcher shops across the country."

"Compassion wants to make sure that the UK demand for veal is met by UK calves reared to higher standards, in the UK. This will take us one step closer to ensure our male dairy calves have a life that's worth living".

We believe that farm animals should not and need not suffer.

If you agree, please support us today. Thanks to Compassion in World Farming's campaigning, veal crates have been illegal in the UK since 1990 and across the EU since 2007.

The veal crate ban is just one of the things that our supporters have helped us achieve so far. Your donation could help end all forms of farm animal cruelty and help us stop factory farming in its tracks.

We receive no government funding so rely entirely on the generosity of our supporters to prevent cruelty to farm animals all over the world.

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Read more

  • Read our report ( 4070.40KB) on the trade in calves from the UK to the EU for veal rearing and the impact of transport and legislative standards for calf rearing in the UK and EU on the welfare of calves.

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