The Viva Vine: vol #5, no #2: September / October, 1996

DIRT ON FARMERS

The questionable practices of those who profit by pain

How veal is made

From the Department of Dairy and Animal Science at Penn State University:

calf condo

"Seeking to produce a relatively small and tender animal in as short a time as possible, veal producers typically purchase Holstein bull calves at 100 pounds, feed them for 14 to 16 weeks, then sell them at 320 to 370 pounds. Calf hutches where each calf is housed are made from plywood, fiberglass or other solid sheet materials and are roughly 8 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high.

"The hutch is a small solid-sided open-front box placed on a well drained area with its closed end toward the prevailing winter winds. Facing each to the south allows the low winter sun to penetrate into the hutch. The open end allows natural ventilation. The hutch has no floor but should be placed on an elevated base of sand, gravel or crushed stone and be well bedded with 6-10 inches of straw or sawdust. Put only one calf in a hutch or pen at a time to maximize calf comfort, minimize the likelihood of disease transmission and maintain good feeding and management procedures. The calf is restrained in the calf hutch by a short chain tether. Each hutch should be provided two pail holders, one for liquids, one for grain.

"Penn State veal researchers have surveyed producers and reviewed literature about individual stall housing--one of the most debated practices in current veal production systems. Nearly all research indicates that individual stalls allow caretakers to recognize sickness and other problems sooner, offer correct amounts of feed and prevent defecation in milk and feed pails. There is always the chance of individual calves not adapting to the type of confinement used in veal production due to individual variability among animals, but these are isolated incidences."

Next issue: The world of dead pig disposal.


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