RSPCA Assured talks dairy calf welfare on BBC Countryfile

RSPCA Assured talks dairy calf welfare on BBC Countryfile

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Veal calves with assessor

The issue of what happens to male dairy calves was featured on BBC Countryfile this evening (Sunday 13 August 2017) and included an interview with RSPCA Assured’s very own Joe Bailey.

Sometimes male calves are shot at birth if they are deemed to be of no economic value.

The farming industry has been working hard for a number of years in conjunction with organisations like the RSPCA to find ways of solving the problem.

Veal facts

    • Animals grown for veal are normally slaughtered at between six and eight months old.
    • These young adults are almost the size of fully grown cattle and much older than chickens, lambs and some pigs when they are killed.
    • Higher welfare RSPCA Assured veal comes from calves kept in groups, on deep straw bedding and with sufficient fibre in their diet.
    • They are never transported abroad or reared in crates.

“Firstly, sexed semen for use in artificial insemination is used by some farmers and is becoming more reliable - it aims to reduce the number of male calves born,” said Joe, agriculture manager at RSPCA Assured.

“Secondly, years ago dairy farmers used a dual purpose breed that was good for milking and also suitable to be reared for beef.

“So another solution - and some farmers are moving in this direction - is to go back to using dual purpose breeds.”


There is also higher welfare veal. Many people don’t understand what veal is - or think it’s cruel because it comes from calves killed at a young age.

Joe said: “Veal is a word that conjures up negative images of baby calves kept alone in small barren crates, transported to the continent and slaughtered at a young age. But in the UK this is simply no longer the case.

“We believe that if people knew more about veal calves and how they’re reared these days on British farms to higher welfare standards such as RSPCA Assured, they would be more inclined to buy British veal.

“Calves are after all a by-product of milk - and people who drink British milk and eat meat could consider buying higher welfare British veal.”

Find out more about veal on our website.

Date: 13 Aug 2017