The farming industry wants to slash the number of bull calves killed at birth – by creating a market for British veal.
According to recent figures, 95,000 male calves are slaughtered shortly after they are born.
Writing in The Grocer, National Farmers Union [NFU] Dairy Advisor Siân Davies said this figure wasn’t a dirty secret. She added: “It’s actually a key focus area within the industry-led Dairy Cattle Welfare Strategy.”
As part of the welfare strategy, meat industry bosses claim they want to increase the percentage of dairy bull calves utilized in the UK food chain, reduce the number of calves exported, and reduce the number slaughtered at birth.
They are killed because that is cheaper for farmers than looking after them.
Siân Davies suggested consumers are to blame for the high numbers calves being killed, because of their reluctance to eat veal.
She wrote: “The bottom line is that we need a market outlet for these calves: if it’s not economic to rear them, farmers won’t.
“So, as a supply chain, let’s work on solutions rather than playing the blame game.
“Ultimately the answer lies with consumers in the purchasing decisions they make.”
She added: “A high-profile campaign by NGOs in the 1980s led to many consumers turning off veal.
“The UK industry then developed the high-welfare rose veal scheme. A few retailers sell British veal, but consumers remember those pictures of old.”