11,000 more shipped abroad in cruel live transport trade
About 100,000 dairy calves were killed last year just because they were the 'wrong sex', new figures have revealed.
The tragic statistics from The Calf Forum highlight that an estimated one in five bull dairy calves born in Britain in 2011 was killed on farm and a further 11,000 were shipped abroad because they cannot produce milk.
Tackling the issue
To tackle the numbers of dairy calves killed on farm and the growing live transport trade, we're working with supermarkets, the farming industry and animal welfare groups to create a market to keep male dairy calves here – such as rearing them for British veal.
The Calf Forum has made a difference
The figures show that over the past five years the work of The Calf Forum, which was set up by the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming, has contributed to an increase in the numbers of dairy bull calves being reared in Britain and a drop in the percentage of those being killed on farm or shipped abroad.
However last year the percentage of calves killed on farm and being shipped abroad started to creep up again.
'The lost animals of the dairy industry'
RSPCA director of communications, David Bowles, said:
Animal lovers are rightly angry when they see lorry loads of young calves being shipped abroad.
However, what many people do not realise is that nine times more calves are killed on farm just days after being born. They are the lost animals of the dairy industry.
Farmers don't want these animals to be killed and neither do the RSPCA.
We also don't want to see them shipped abroad to potentially face long journeys across Europe where they can be reared on farms without a properly nutritious diet or bedding to lie down on.
We would much rather these calves were reared for veal in the UK where legally they have to be given a proper diet and bedding.
Educating shoppers about higher welfare British veal
David Tory, pictured with his veal calves, is a dairy and veal farmer and a member of our Freedom Food scheme.
David has been educating shoppers that British veal calves are free to run around with pen mates and have a longer life than chicken, pigs, turkeys and lamb.
There is a lot of ignorance out there about British veal. But once I've explained the facts, that there is a high welfare choice for veal, a vast majority of people are onside.
Our veal calves have a very high quality of life – a good vaccination programme, high feed programme, deep bedding and low stocking density.
Look for the Freedom Food logo or buy British
If you buy veal in the supermarket, look for the Freedom Food logo or buy British.
If eating in a restaurant and veal is on the menu, Simply Ask the manager to only stock Freedom Food or British.
RSPCA head of farm animal science, Dr Julia Wrathall, said:
Part of the solution to this problem is for more people to choose to buy British veal, ideally Freedom Food veal which is from farms, hauliers and abattoirs inspected to RSPCA welfare standards.
When properly run and managed, veal calf rearing systems in the UK can provide animals with a good quality of life.
Due to the diet and lifestyle of the calves, the meat produced under this system is darker pink rather than very pale in colour and is known as rose veal.
TV farmer Jimmy Doherty encourages shoppers to buy British
The Calf Forum figures coincide with the launch of a new series on Channel 4 featuring TV farmer Jimmy Doherty.
Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket, which starts tonight, is about creating affordable higher welfare food for Tesco, including British veal meatballs.
In tonight's episode Jimmy highlights the needless killing of male dairy calves and why he also believes these calves should instead be reared for high welfare British rose veal.
Watch Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket on Tuesday, 29 May at 9pm on Channel 4.
Support our pledge to farm animals
We have pledged to increase the proportion of farm animals reared under higher welfare systems in the UK.
Buying higher welfare food can really help us to achieve this.
Find out other ways you can help and take our pledge today.