Veal production in the UK

Posted on the 28th October 2013

Dairy cows are made pregnant so that they produce commercial quantities of milk. Female calves may join the herd as replacements for their worn-out mothers who are ‘culled’. The males – and some of the females, too – may be reared for veal or for beef. Unwanted males will simply be shot at birth.

Veal crates were banned in Britain in 1990 and right across the EU in 2006. Since then, the calves of dairy cows are reared in the UK as ‘rose’ or ‘white’ veal. The calves are slaughtered between six months and a year old.

In recent weeks, Animal Aid has visited three veal farms in the UK.

At Fossil Farm in Dorset, we were met immediately with the sight of two dead calves. They were dumped near to the farmhouse but there were no obvious signs of the cause of their deaths. Those still living were kept in a shed. Their ears tagged, and with ribs showing, they stood on straw, while the radio blared out all night. Some stood at the edge of the pen, looking over the fencing to where another calf’s twisted dead body had been dumped.

At Kersdown Barton, we filmed Jersey cows ankle deep in slurry – in stark contrast to the images on the company’s website.

And at Branch Farm in Devon, young cows – many covered in filth – were crowded into a pen. Coughing could be heard.

In 2009, Animal Aid filmed young calves being slaughtered at a Cornish abattoir. The animals cried out and tried to escape the stunning tongs. One was stunned so poorly that the slaughterer stood on his jerking body to hold him still.

We also filmed worn-out dairy cows being killed and butchered at a Derbyshire slaughterhouse. While cows can live well into their 20s, the heavy burden of constant pregnancy, birthing and milking, as well as the intensive conditions they are forced to endure, mean most are slaughtered at around five years old.

The dairy industry, beef and veal industries are inextricably linked. If you find the farming and slaughter of these gentle creatures distressing, please signup for the Great Vegan Challenge.

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