The life of a veal calf

Written by Glenn on July 25th, 2009
Veal huts in Abbotsford, BC

Veal huts in Abbotsford, BC

If you’ve ever driven through Abbotsford or any other rural farming community, you may have seen little white huts set up outside of dairy farms. These are veal huts. Occasionally they contain female calves, but most often they contain the males.

Pretty much all of the male cavles born on dairy farms become veal. This is an unfortunate fact of dairy production. In order to produce milk, cows need to give birth. They have one calf per year for however long they are being milked (4 years or so usually). The dairy farms can use the females to replace the older, “spent” cows, but the males aren’t good for anything.

These calves are taken from their mothers right after they are born and tethered in these white huts so that they can’t run around or play with each other. The dairy industry says this is so that they won’t fight with each other or get sick. They don’t have their own mother’s milk to drink (we drink that) so they are not passed any natural disease resistance from her, as would be the case in nature.

That’s about it. Their lives are spent standing around, laying down, doing nothing. Because they never got to nurse they will try to suckle on anything. It seems cute, but it’s really a sign that their instincts are being thwarted. Just as their mother’s reproductive system has been hijacked for our own benefit (the benefits of milk are greatly debatable) these little boys have their bodies hijacked to produce the soft and tender veal that we all love.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Johnathan says:

    … that none of us love, is more like it!

  2. Ann says:

    My boyfriend and I were traveling through VT this past weekend, and I noticed all these dog pens. Strange, I thought. Why would farms have so many dogs… He then pointed out to me that they were veal huts. I’ve never eaten veal, even when I ate meat regularly. Instinctually, I was never comfortable with this practice. Please read my recent post: http://soundearth.com/SafeClean/?p=172

  3. tj cain says:

    I want to help

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