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A dairy farming boss has branded the mass slaughter of calves an ‘own goal’.

According to industry data, around 95,000 bobby (male) calves are killed each year in the UK soon after birth. Reports put this at 19 percent of the male dairy calves born.

This fate – known as dairy’s ‘dirty secret’ – is one of the options for male calves, who also face being sold for veal or beef, or live export – an unpopular practice deemed inhumane by many.

‘Own goal’

National Farmers (NFU) Union dairy chairman Michael Oakes said he wants to find a solution.

“Shooting bull calves is potentially a massive own goal when we are talking about showing how great our industry is,” he reportedly said at an NFU Council meeting in Warwickshire, on January 28.

“We can either sit back and let everyone else deal with it or we can show some leadership at the NFU. The role is there for the government on procurement, there are roles there for us on persuading the government on what it needs to do.”

‘A dark secret’

Lex Rigby, campaigns manager for animal welfare organization Viva! told Plant Based News that the only solution to this issue is to go vegan.

She said: “The shooting of male calves as nothing more than useless by-products of the dairy industry is unfortunately just another dark secret that the NFU would rather keep hidden from the public. The latest figures indicate that a staggering 95,000 bull calves were shot shortly after birth in 2015, simply because they’re unable to produce milk and it’s cheaper to kill them than rear them for rose veal or ‘low-grade beef’ – the only viable alternatives.

“The NFU is simply trying to end public outrage by seeking a solution to ‘bull calf euthanasia’ rather than addressing the issue at hand here – which is the unnecessary killing of thousands upon thousands of animals. Whether these animals are slaughtered at birth or nine months later for cheap meat makes no difference, ultimately the solution is to end the perpetual cycle of exploitation and choose vegan.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.