Key veal calf welfare problems and how RSPCA Assured helps

Key veal calf welfare problems and how RSPCA Assured helps

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The export of veal calves as young as 14 days old is a major welfare concern.

Veal calves can potentially be forced to stand on a lorry for up to 18 hours with just one hour's rest in temperatures of up to 35°C.

Because of this calves can sometimes become ill and even die.

Veal crates were banned in Europe in 2006 but on the continent, many calves are still kept in barren houses with slatted floors and no straw bedding.

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 Continental veal calves:

  • May have travelled standing up for 18 hours in hot lorries from the UK, with only an hour’s rest
  • Can be kept in barren houses with no straw to sleep on
  • Are often given a milky diet without fibre which can cause ill health

No veal calves on the RSPCA Assured scheme are transported in lorries to the continent

Not giving calves straw to lie on means they have nowhere comfortable to rest.  

Straw also provides a source of fibre (on top of their daily diet of milk) which helps the

animals' digestive system develop properly. 

A balanced diet avoids them becoming deficient in iron and anaemic.

What makes RSPCA Assured different?

The RSPCA welfare standards for veal calves - which must be met for veal to be labelled RSPCA Assured - don't allow calves to be transported to the continent.

Veal calves are kept in small groups, with deep straw bedding and a healthy fibrous diet.

The RSPCA welfare standards cover the calves throughout their lives including health, diet, environment and care.

On RSPCA Assured farms, veal calves must have environmental enrichment from 6 weeks of age. This not only means they avoid negative experiences but actually receive positive input as well.  

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RSPCA Assured assessors and the RSPCA's farm livestock officers check that the RSPCA welfare standards are being met. 

Informed by scientific evidence, the standards are much more detailed and stricter than the minimum legal requirements.

The RSPCA Assured label makes it easy to recognise products from animals that have had a better life.

This means you can feel confident about your choice when shopping and eating out.

Veal cows have better lives under the RSPCA Assured scheme:

  • They cannot be sold to markets which export calves abroad
  • Calves have deep straw bedding to lie on
  • They are given a diet with sufficient iron and fibre to keep them healthy.

Watch our video and find out more!

Video: https://vimeo.com/133034613

Did you know?

  • RSPCA Assured and British veal is pinker than veal produced abroad and is often called 'rosé veal'
  • Most veal calves are slaughtered at six to eight months old

How you can help

You can make a difference by choosing veal - including veal burgers, mince and chops - which is labelled RSPCA Assured.

If you can’t find RSPCA Assured labelled veal then look for British veal.

Eating out

Don’t forget veal is often served in restaurants!

If you want to know if they're serving higher welfare veal, just look for the RSPCA Assured label on the menu.

If you can’t see it, ask the manager or the chef where their veal comes from.

Make sure they check it’s from an RSPCA Assured scheme member or a British farm.  

You'll find lots more information about the welfare of veal cows on the RSPCA website.