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veal farming

Are You Interested in Raising Veal?

Occasionally we hear from farmers asking how to get started in this great industry. Raising veal can be rewarding, and it is a wonderful way to engage family in caring for the animals you raise.

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First, we encourage all farmers who raise veal to be VQA certified. You can find more information about the Veal Quality Assurance program through this link. The program includes best management practices for raising veal. We recommend you work closely with a veterinarian to develop a comprehensive herd health plan and to become VQA certified.

Next, identify a place to process your veal. Most milk-fed veal is raised and processed in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. Please contact any of these AVA-member companies listed here for more information.

If you would like to market your product directly to consumers, many state departments of agriculture have programs to help with direct marketing. There are a number of farmers who have experienced success in raising and marketing their product direct to consumers, and veal is no exception.

We also invite you to become a member of the American Veal Association, where you can connect with other industry leaders and be informed on the latest developments in the industry.

Thank you for your interest and best wishes on your future efforts.

Attention California: New State Mandate and Jan. 1, 2020 Deadline Will Impact Price and Availability of Veal

With passage of Proposition 12, there is great uncertainty if and who will be able to supply California with veal and at what price. California businesses should contact their current suppliers for more information to assess availability and cost according to the American Veal Association (AVA).

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 Under the new mandate, any veal intended for sale in California beginning January 1, 2020 will need to come from barns that provide 43 square feet per calf, regardless of the age and size of the calf. Essentially U.S. farmers will need to raise about one-third the quantity of calves (about 66) in a barn that was designed, built and financed to hold 200 calves. 

AVA-member companies and farmers  are dedicated to providing consumers with nutritious meat that comes from animals humanely raised. This commitment was the foundation for the substantial changes that have occurred in the milk-fed veal industry over the past 10 years. Veal calves today are raised in group pens with no tethers and plenty of space to move around and socialize with other calves.

“Proposition 12 by California voters will impose unnecessary regulations based on misleading and out-of-date information,” states AVA president, Dale Bakke. “The space requirement is excessive and will not improve animal welfare. At the current time, no milk-fed veal raised anywhere in the world meets California’s floor space requirements.”

Over the past 10 years, AVA-member companies and veal farmers invested more than $150 million in new buildings and renovations to meet the association's goal of group-housing and no tethers. These new facilities enable the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, the international standard for assessing expression of normal behavior in animals, to be practiced.

The EU had the most generous space requirements in the world for veal calves prior to this law. Their guidelines are scientific and based on the size(weight) of the calf.

    1. Veal Calves over 485 lbs. must have a minimum of 1.8 sq. meters (19.4 sq. ft.)

    2. Calves from 330 - 485 lbs. must have a minimum of 1.7 sq. meters (18.3 sq. ft.) 

    3. Calves less than 330 lbs. must have a minimum of 1.5 sq. meters (16.1 sq. ft.)

    4. No calf over 8 weeks of age is allowed in an individual pen.

According to Bakke, AVA members are very consistent with these EU guidelines providing 16-20 square feet per calf depending on the size of calf. Tethering is not allowed on AVA-member farms.

Popular at fine-dining restaurants and other retailers, California is a significant consumer market for milk-fed veal. Veal is raised by farm families primarily in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. AVA represents approximately 80 percent of all veal meat produced in the US. 

Download the entire statement here.