What happens to bull calves from dairy farms? Are all bull calves used for veal?
As a follow up to this post about the ridiculous photo going around showing lots of calf hutches that says all dairy bull calves are used for veal, raised in horrible conditions and are slaughtered at a few weeks old for veal, I thought I’d show you guys a few photos of what really happens to dairy bull calves.
When a bull calf is born on our farm, they get all the same attention and care that a heifer calf gets. This post goes into detail on how we care for baby calves. However since we don’t have the space or feed to raise bull calves, when bull calves on our farm are about a week old, we sell them.
So where do those calves go when we sell them and what happens to them after they leave our farm?
A few years ago we started selling our bull calves to a farmer who lives about 10 miles from us. When we have a couple of calves that are about a week old, we shoot him a text and set up a time for him to come and pickup the calves. He comes over, pays us whatever the current market price is for each calf and then takes his new calves home.
While many people believe that all dairy bull calves are used for veal production, that’s not true at all. In the US, veal isn’t nearly as popular as it once was and today only a small percent of bull calves are raised for veal. Most dairy bull calves today are raised for beef.
2021 UPDATE- If you’d like to learn more about how veal calves are raised in the U.S. I got the chance to learn more on a veal tour. Check out this post to learn more.
These boys are some of the baby bull calves that were born on our farm. As you can see from the photos, they are growing and doing well being cared for by Kurt and Melissa, the farmers who we sell them too.
Yes, ultimately bull calves do die to become the beef we eat. But just as we make sure our milk cows live good lives and are respected while they are with us, Kurt and Melissa make sure the boys have good lives as well.