We want to answer your questions. 

Below are answers to some common questions about veal.  If you need additional information, please contact us.  

Where can I buy veal?

We invite you to visit the websites of member companies to learn more about where to buy milk-fed veal.

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Where can I find recipes for preparing veal?

If you are a consumer looking for veal recipes, visit this website: www.vealmadeeasy.com

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WHAT IS MEANT BY "Milk-FED" VEAL?

The term milk-fed veal – sometimes referred to as special-fed or formula-fed -- is a USDA classification that describes veal calves derived from the dairy industry and fed a special milk formula or milk replacer that is rich in nutrients. This formula is typically made from whey and whey protein, both of which are by-products of cheese making. It's nutritionally designed to produce creamy white to pale pink meat. In addition to the milk, most farmers also feed some grain and forages.

Milk-fed veal was developed in Holland and brought to the U.S. shortly after WWII.  Milk-fed veal evolved by utilizing two primary by-products of the dairy industry – bull calves and whey. Since the U.S. dairy herd is predominantly Holstein based, the black and white Holstein bull calf soon became synonymous with milk-fed veal. 

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I'VE HEARD VEAL CALVES ARE TETHERED IN SMALL CRATES UNABLE TO MOVE.  IS THAT TRUE?

No. There have been significant changes in the milk-fed veal industry. Originally, all American milk-fed veal calves were tethered in individual stalls.  That is no longer the preferred standard today.  Veal farmers have transitioned from individual stalls to group pens. Farmers continue to innovate and improve group housing but generally ensure that veal calves are moved to group pens within a couple weeks age. The pens allow the calves to stand, stretch, lie down, groom themselves and socialize with other calves. 

 

WHAT ABOUT THE CLAIM THAT VEAL CALVES ARE KEPT ANEMIC AND WEAK?

Having strong, healthy animals is a priority. Veal farmers carefully watch each calf to make sure it is not showing any clinical symptoms of anemia, like weakness or loss of appetite. With a special-fed diet, the calves receive carefully controlled amounts of iron to meet their nutritional needs as well as other nutrients. Research studies have shown that such diets help maintain normal appetite, health and behavior.

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ARE VEAL FARMS LIKE THE FACTORY FARMS I'VE HEARD ABOUT?

The image of a food factory couldn't be further from the truth. Typical veal farms are family farms raising on average about 200 calves.  In some areas of the country, it is very common to see Amish and Mennonite farm families raising veal. This video is a great opportunity to tour a veal farm virtually.

 

IS VEAL INSPECTED?

Yes. Trained government personnel conduct a visual inspection before and during processing. Animals with visible signs of health problems are held for further examination. You can learn more about the inspection process by visiting the Food Safety and Inspection Service website.

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WHY ARE CALVES Separated FROM THEIR MOTHER SO QUICKLY?

Veal calves are usually the offspring of dairy cows. Calves are normally removed from cows after birth. This practice provides health benefits to both cow and calf. This enables the dairy cow to return to the milking herd to be milked twice or three times a day.  After giving birth, the dairy cow produces a significant amount of milk, much more than a calf can consume. Additionally, they can assure the cow is thoroughly milked to prevent any udder problems.  The farmer provides individual care and attention to each calf.  Several potential diseases can be monitored and controlled timely and effectively while the calf develops and grows.

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I'VE SEEN PICTURES OF INDIVIDUAL HUTS WHERE VEAL CALVES ARE CONFINED.  THIS CAN’T BE GOOD FOR THE CALVES.

First and foremost, the well-being of all calves is very important to farmers. These huts – or calf hutches – are not where veal is raised.  You can find these hutches on most dairy farms and they are ideal for keeping dairy heifer calves healthy. Bull calves, which are raised for veal, come from dairy farms and are cared for in veal barns.  Innovation, renovation and leadership are moving the U.S. milk-fed veal industry to raise calves in group pens.  Modern veal barns have artificial lighting overhead or receive natural sunlight through windows or curtained panels. Typical veal barns are also heated during cold months and have year-round ventilation to provide clean, fresh air.

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What is the AVA's position on state laws to ban veal crates?

State laws are not necessary because veal crates are no longer the industry practice for milk-fed veal. Veal farmers have transitioned from individual stalls to group pens. Farmers continue to innovate and improve group housing, and generally ensure that veal calves are moved to group pens within a couple weeks of age. The pens allow the calves to stand, stretch, lie down, groom themselves and socialize with other calves.

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DO VEAL CALVES ROUTINELY RECEIVE ANTIBIOTICS?

Antibiotics are a critical tool for preventing, controlling and treating disease in animals. Their proper therapeutic use actually makes our food supply safer. If a veal calf becomes sick, an FDA approved antibiotic can be used as directed by a licensed veterinarian and according to its label for dosage, administration route and withdrawal time.  As soon as the animal recovers, the use of any medication is discontinued. Veal production protocols for AHCP usage, that have been in place for years, represent a practical model for the new FDA regulations for the judicial use of antimicrobials in all other food producing animals.

To learn more about the new animal feed safety regulations and the use of antibiotics to protect public health, visit:

http://www.ahi.org/issues-advocacy/animal-antibiotics/

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HOW BIG ARE VEAL CALVES WHEN THEY ARE MARKETED?

 Typically, veal farmers buy dairy bull calves at about 80-120 pounds and raise them for approximately 20-22 weeks, until they weigh upward of 475-500 pounds. 

IS IT TRUE THAT VEAL CALVES ARE SO SICK AND CRIPPLED THAT MANY CANNOT EVEN WALK TO BE SLAUGHTERED?

This is simply not true. All veal calves must be ambulatory – meaning they can walk -- to pass inspection when presented for slaughter.  It is a government requirement that there is a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspector at every plant observing each animal to ensure it meets current regulations which stipulate all veal calves must be healthy, ambulatory and pass inspection when presented for slaughter. Ill or injured calves that are non-ambulatory are promptly euthanized.  This requirement is stipulated for all animals processed for food.

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What is bob veal?

The youngest veal found in the marketplace is bob veal. Bob veal is the meat from calves typically marketed directly from a dairy farm and is less than a month old.  The meat has a very mild taste. About 15 percent of all veal processed in the U.S. is bob veal.

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How much veal is consumed in the U.S?

The annual per capita consumption of veal in the U.S. in 2014 was 0.3 pounds.  


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