Search icon

Practical solutions for 'surplus' calves

News Section Icon Published 27/07/2011

A recent Viva! investigation highlights the issues surrounding intensive dairy farming.

On Wednesday 27 July 2011 The Sun newspaper reported on one aspect of Viva's investigation - the shooting of a male dairy calf at a farm supplying milk to the chocolate industry.

Male dairy calves are not wanted

The serious issue of shooting male dairy calves at birth, or exporting them live to be reared in continental Europe as veal, continues. There is a real need to find practical and economically viable solutions for male dairy calves to be reared in the UK, in high welfare systems, to meet the demands for beef on domestic and international markets.

Compassion's view

CEO, Philip Lymbery comments: "The shooting of male dairy calves is a serious issue of ongoing concern. Compassion welcomes the work done by leaders in the food and farming community to reduce this animal welfare problem. We encourage the food and dairy industry to continue making commitments to rearing their male calves for beef and not simply shooting them at birth."

Compassion applauds those making positive steps

Much work has been conducted in this area by specialist calf-rearing producers, companies and retailers. It's not just the responsibility of the farmer, but of consumers and the food industry too. At the Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards earlier this month Compassion in World Farming celebrated leading companies in the food industry that are committed to using higher welfare systems to improve the lives of cows and calves in their dairy supply chain. Among those presented with a Good Dairy Award were Green & Black's, Yeo Valley, The Co-operative, and Ben & Jerry's.

Beyond Calf Exports

The Beyond Calf Exports Forum was convened in June 2006 by Compassion in World Farming and RSPCA, with leading stakeholders in the UK beef and dairy industry, retailers, Defra, academics and animal welfare advocates.

The aims of the forum are:

  • To increase the number of male dairy calves reared for beef in the UK;
  • To reduce the numbers of calves being shot on-farm,
  • To move beyond live export.

The forum encourages breeding strategies that produce more robust and healthier calves which would increase the value of the dairy calf to the UK beef industry.


You can do your bit too


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).