England: The end of dairy’s ‘dirty secret’?

WAV (Mark) Comment: 

The issue of unwanted male calves from the dairy industry has been an issue here in the UK for decades; probably even longer.  Female cows have to be in calf in order to produce milk.  When they give birth the female calves are kept to re supply older or less productive females in the heard; who go off for slaughter.  For male calves; they are simply an un wanted ‘by product’ of the dairy business.  When they are born, if it is a male; it is not uncommon for them to be shot in the head immediately by the farmer.

The UK banned the use of veal crates back in 1992; it was a big victory for the AR movement.  Veal crates were individual pens without enough room for the calves to turn round, lie down properly, or groom themselves.  They were; and still are, barbaric devices – living coffins for the animals put into them.


Sadly, whilst bleating on about how wonderful it was that crates were banned; the UK government refused to stop young male calves from being exported to mainland Europe to be put into the crates; the very things that were banned because of cruelty in the UK.

In the past, here in the UK, unwanted male calves were exported live to places such as the Netherlands where they were incarcerated into veal crates for 6 months and then taken out and sent for slaughter.  In the older days; calves in the crates never got the iron they needed; they became anaemic over the months; and with no bedding in the crates but only a wooden slatted floor, the calves would become desperately deficient of iron in their little bodies.

But this was fine for the veal producers of Europe as it made ‘white veal’ which is a common type of meat.  Because of the export and treatment of young male calves in the crates; the British public have repulsed the business and ‘veal’ has always had a bad name in the UK because of the exports and the crates.  Not many Brits eat veal – it has a bad name in the UK – simple as that !

Read more from CIWF, London – https://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/cows/veal-calves/#start

I did a lot of protesting about the export of veal calves at English ports; and checked out places in the Netherlands with John when we took the CIWF intensive farming truck and roadshow there. 

Setting up for another days display

John is no longer with us – England: Another Terrible Loss – John Callaghan. – World Animals Voice


Here is a photo (above) I took at Dover of young British male calves being exported to Europe.  You can see their tongues wrapped around the trailer bars where they are wanting to suckle; as they have been separated from their mums.

At some time; I cannot remember exactly when, (but it was cold and windy – hence clothing) we took a veal crate to Dover and put someone pretending to be our Prime Minister; then John Major MP; into the crate.  The calf within was liberated and John Major was stuck in there for him to get a ‘taste’ of what he was doing to the calves.  I am shaking John Major warmly by the throat in this picture at Dover – the place of so many young calf exports over the years.  The lady near me is Barb; a hunt sab even though she was in her 70’s !

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mark-dover-94.jpg

So; moving on to this article from the great ‘Guardian’ newspaper from London; it is great news that there will now be legislation coming in which will stop ‘unwanted’ male calves from being shot after birth.  But; I still have a major gripe with the dairy industry and the way females are treated as mere ‘milk machines’.  I will be glad when the whole dairy industry has to close down; and we can celebrate with a glass of alternative plant based ‘milk’.

When you campaign for improvements in animal rights and welfare; steps are taken small rather than in huge strides.  I guess this is one small step for the better; but we still need to put our attention into the female cows used in the dairy business also.

Regards Mark

Guardian Article:


The end of dairy’s ‘dirty secret’?


Farms have a year to stop killing male calves

Supermarket support and rising use of sexed semen expected to help UK farmers meet new welfare rules by the end of 2021

WAV Comment –  The brilliant ‘Guardian’ – London:

The end of dairy’s ‘dirty secret’? Farms have a year to stop killing male calves | Meat industry | The Guardian

Dairy farmers have until the end of next year to prove they are no longer killing male calves on-farm under new rules which will apply to nearly all UK farms from January, the Guardian has learned.

The number of male calves being killed straight after birth, known as the “dirty secret” among farmers, has prompted outrage from animal welfare groups and many within the farming sector.

A Guardian investigation in 2018 estimated that 95,000 were being killed every year within a few days of birth. The lack of viable markets for bull calves and public apathy towards consuming British rosé veal had meant it was sometimes cheaper to kill calves rather than rear them.

However, a rise in the use of sexed semen, which dramatically reduces the number of male calves born, and new retailer policies to help farmers find markets for their calves is leading to a fall in animals being killed.

Around 60,000 male calves are now killed on-farm every year, according to industry estimates, which is around 15% of the bull calves born on dairy farms. But this figure is expected to drop significantly with new rules restricting the killing of calves coming into force from next year.

All farms covered by the Red Tractor standards (the scheme applies to 95% of milk produced in the UK) will have to have written breeding and management policies in place and maintain data on all births and deaths, according to new rules due to be announced imminently.

The new standards state farms will be banned from the “routine euthanasia of calves”.

The rules come into force on 1 January, but a spokesperson for Red Tractor told the Guardian this week that farmers would have until the end of next year to meet the standards.

A steady increase in the use of sexed semen since the early 1990s has recently seen sales jumping from 18% in 2017 to more than 50% of total semen sales in 2020. Industry figures expect it to completely replace conventional semen within five years.

“It’s been a gamechanger,” said Andrew Suddes, a farm consultant for Promar. “Farmers are able to produce heifer [female] calves more easily. You can now produce the replacement heifers that you need with sexed semen, and use beef semen on the rest [of the cows] to produce calves that can be better kept and reared for beef.”

Although sexed semen increases costs for farmers, it can reduce the proportion of male calves being born to less than 10%.

A number of retailers have already banned the killing of male dairy calves or their export overseas from farms in their supply chains. Retailers including Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Morrisons now have calf schemes in place to help ensure rearing dairy bull calves is economically viable for farmers.

In the case of Morrisons, farmers are required to rear the calves to a certain weight until 15–40 days of age, at which point they will be bought by a beef-rearing company. The retailer also committed to buying calves born on farms under bovine tuberculosis restrictions, which leave farmers with few markets to sell to.

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