River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

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River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156117 Muscroj
Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:59 am

I love the RC series', think Hugh has done a fantastic job of getting the county inspired about grow your own.

The thing that interested me about this first episode was the discussion about veal. I've always been terribly against veal because of the well publised 'veal crates' but even when I discoverd that veal was being reared in a more ethical way in britain I still felt it was unnecessary, plenty of meat out there without eating young cows. HOwever what the dairy farmer was doing was, for me, the answer to the veal industry, raising young bulls that would have ordinarily been slaughtered straight after birth, giving them the best life she could & raising them until they're about 8 months old with a mixed diet, suddenly put the whole issue into a new light for me.

I am now thinking that dairy farmers *should* be making this sort of provision for the young cattle that would otherwise be unnecessarily and wastefully slaughtered. Well done Ruth Kimber!
Last edited by Muscroj on Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: River Cottage is back :)

Post: #156120 jim
Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:27 am

Dear Muscroj,

Several years ago I took a class to see the Hampshire Agricultural College at Sparsholt. The children loved a day with the animals but were disgusted to learn that, because of the collapse in the veal market, bull calves were slaughtered at birth, minced and fed to the milking cows as protein supplement. This practice is suspected as a major contribution to the outbreaks of BSE and has since been banned. However, farmers are still faced with the problem. What to do with bull calves born in dairy herds? What we saw on Wednesday evening struck me as a sensible and, reasonably, humane way of facing the difficulty and generating income at a time when farmers are strapped for cash. Just need to persuade the public now.

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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156159 Millymollymandy
Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:07 pm

I watched that and I still don't understand because they didn't explain is why those calves can't go out and feed on grass like other cows? Even being shut up indoors in a straw filled area wasn't exactly great or natural was it? I think a bullet in the head at birth is of course much better than a veal crate (and european veal tastes like shite - well actually it tastes like nothing so what's the point of it?). Or is it that it is the only way to make dairy cow breeds edible - to feed it on mostly milk? :scratch: Here in Brittany we have mostly dual purpose breeds which probably explains why the beef is as tough as old boots. So maybe that IS the answer!
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156163 Muscroj
Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:01 pm

the way I understood it (and please, happy to be corrected if I'm wrong) is that the calves have to be removed from their mother so that the mother is producing milk for us, rather than them. I guess having a separate field for the calves would prevent that problem, but my guess is that a dairy farmers fields would all be tied up with dairy cattle. I agree, that giving them open space to run around in and graze would be far better, but as the farmer 'appeared' to be trying to give the best to her animals that she was able to give, this seemed to be a good compromise, and much better than either of the 2 alternatives.

I also understand it that the veals white flesh is so because of their milk only diet, however having seen organic rose veal on 'The F Word, running in fields & eating grass, is it really necessary for the animals to be exclusively fed on milk (having never tried either I guess I can't comment on that one!)
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156164 red
Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:39 pm

I've yet to watch the program - got it recorded.. just need the time now!

but you would not believe the number of times I have had to explain to people where milk comes from and that veal is a by product of milk...

the calves are removed from the cows, but still given milk. the cows are milked more often than the calves would want to.. this makes th cows make lots and lots of milk for human consumption.

if you want milk, there has to be calves.

for a long time now, in the UK, we have been encouraged to eat British veal, because by doing so, at least the calf gets a limited life and we dont do veal crates. without us eating veal, it either means death at birth, or exported to not so nice conditions.

BBC article

dairy cows are usually given other feed as well as grass.
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156170 Annpan
Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:10 pm

What confuses me is that we call it veal, but to me veal is young beef, fed only a milk diet and kept in veal crates - and isn't there a rather horrid way of slaughtering so that the blood is pumped out of the body so as to keep the meat whiter?

Anyway, can we call this 'new style veal', or 'calf' (as with lamb) or something else that doesn't conjure up in the imagination the horrid practices of veal rearing... or what about just calling it beef?
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156176 red
Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:42 pm

but veal is the real name for young beef. just as we call young mutton lamb.
the fact that some people put in some nasty practices does not stop it being veal.

pork raised in cramped conditions is still called pork....
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156202 Helsbells
Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:46 pm

I used to love HFW in the origional River Cottage series, now I find it pretty boring, I am like "yeah yeah, I know how to grow veg etc" Its not anything I dont already know.

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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156203 Annpan
Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:51 pm

red wrote:but veal is the real name for young beef. just as we call young mutton lamb.
the fact that some people put in some nasty practices does not stop it being veal.

pork raised in cramped conditions is still called pork....



Excuse my ignorance :oops: I had assumed that the term 'veal' had something to do with the way it was raised... like 'fois-gras' (sp?) for example.

Well... if I make that assumption, then so will others.
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156213 red
Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:20 am

Annpan wrote:
red wrote:but veal is the real name for young beef. just as we call young mutton lamb.
the fact that some people put in some nasty practices does not stop it being veal.

pork raised in cramped conditions is still called pork....



Excuse my ignorance :oops: I had assumed that the term 'veal' had something to do with the way it was raised... like 'fois-gras' (sp?) for example.




you can buy ethical fois grastoo :mrgreen:

I have still nto got to watching HFW yet - but veal in the UK has been non crate for yonks.. and the promotion to eat it has been around a long while too...

Well... if I make that assumption, then so will others.


well its good then if there is a campaign goign that will get people to understand
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156266 Broad Bean
Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:29 pm

I'm sorry but if the fact that white veal is raised in inhumane conditions has been well known in the UK for years which is one of the reasons why the consumption of veal here is so low. I refused to eat veal as a child (some some 30 years ago) on realising this and it took me quite a crisis of consience to try rose veal a few years ago. As already said above the fact the production of male calves is a problem for dairy farmers is also a well publicised fact, anybody who doesn't know this is quite frankly ill informed (I'm sorry if this is seen as offensive but I really do believe this is true). I find it quite bizarre that many lactose vegetarians don't see a sense of irony in the fact that they will consume milk and firmly believe that we have a duty to give a decent life (and death) to any animal which we create and to make use of every part of that animal which has given it's life.

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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156269 red
Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:39 pm

yes, the production of milk is in many ways far more dodgy/convtroversial than the production of beef.
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156275 eccentric_emma
Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:33 pm

Yes it was the 'penny dropping' that by eating dairy products I was still supporting the meat industry that turned me to be vegan, and it does surprise me that many vegetarians don't make the link. However it did take somebody else to point it out to me - I guess nice adverts of cows grazing in nice grassy fields makes an impression.
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #156299 Muscroj
Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:34 am

yes, and if you look at the new anchor adverts and how they are talking about themselves as the 'free range butter company' you would never guess the fate that awaits the male calfs. I agree I was 'ill informed' before I saw this programme the other night, I'd never even thought about how milk was produced, but unfortunately without the time to research everything I put into my mouth, every item of clothes I wear & every shop I shop in, unless I happen to come across information like this it's very difficult to become informed about the subject. Its because of programme makers that I am slowly becoming more informed on subjects like this and acting accordingly.
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Re: River Cottage is back :) - Veal discussion

Post: #160565 Super.Niki
Sat Jul 11, 2009 4:57 pm

I saw that program and have since been feeling the guilt about the dairy products I eat/drink. I admit it never really occurred to me that (duh!) male calves would be no use to a dairy farmer, silly me always assumed they would go to good use.

I got to thinking and emailed a few dairy companies. Starting with Yeo-Valley Organic Dairy products here's the juice:

(What I said):
I read you FAQ about animal welfare and read that the standards are "high". I would like to enquire as to what "high" means as it's quite vague.

Are your dairy cows free-range or are they kept inside most of their lives?


I am also worried, as a consumer of dairy producs (I am happy to say I really enjoy YeoValley products), and an ethical animal welfare enthusiast, I am concerend about the male calves born to Dairy cows? I'm not sure I agree with them being shot a few days after bitrh yet the great veal debate is also a grey area. While I can understand that the males are of no use to dairy farmers there must be a better use for them than being shot? Can you confirm how you deal with male cows?


Thanks for your time


Yeo-Valley's response (within 2 days, which I thought was good):

Dear Nicole



Thank you for your recent email, we always appreciate hearing from our consumers. We are always thrilled to get feedback and thank you very much for your comments.



I will endeavour to help with your queries regarding organic farming as fully as I can; our own Somerset based herd of Pedigree Lakemead British Friesians are excellent dual purpose cows who in line with organic standards are fed a grass based diet, which we think produces the healthiest tastiest milk, which is proven to be richer in omega 3!



Please let me reassure you that on our Yeo Valley farms, when a bull calf is born, we never destroy the animal as we rear British Friesian calves that have a value when reared for meat. This breed may not produce the sheer quantities of milk a Holstein would produce, but is the most suited in our opinion, to succeed within our climate and also be a dual purpose animal producing both meat and milk. Unfortunately we can not keep all of the bull calves on our farms due to the numbers and the space required. We do sell some of them, however, we use the local market that we know well and do not deal with stock market dealers who specialise in export. Any calf we sell would be sold before 42 days.



I would like to reassure you that we operate the highest level of animal welfare standards on all of our farms. Not only are we strong supporters of the welfare system developed by The Soil Association for cattle producing organic milk, we also take care of the environment in which we operate and act responsibly and ethically in how we do business. Organics standards strictly admonish zero grazing techniques; cows cannot be permanently housed, but must spend the majority of their lives outdoors. The cows must have appropriate bedding and adequate space when they are brought indoors during bad weather. They are milked twice a day.



Red cloverA recent study has found that organic milk naturally contains high (min 60%) in forage such as fresh grass, clover, silage and hay.



Our cows are fed a mixed diet which is always broken down into Dry Matter on this basis the Soil Association Standards state:

100% Organic Feed

60% of the daily diet to consist of Grass (fresh, dried, silage)

60% of the total diet is to have come from our own holding



Organic cereal is an important part of the diet and the rules above apply.



In our particular situation, we aim to grow much more than 60% of our requirements on our farms, our cows are fed on an organic grass-based diet which produces a slightly lower but a more natural yield of milk. Cows fed on concentrated feed may produce more milk, but it can be stressful for the cow to do so and put a strain on the animals’ health.



As you have taken the time to write to us, we would love to write back to you in the future, please follow this link to register for our newsletter. We promise not to send you anything from any other companies or anything you wouldn’t like! Please click away on http://www.yeovalleyorganic.co.uk/newsN ... ersReg.php to keep up to date with us.



Thank you once again for contacting us and I hope you continue to enjoy Yeo Valley Organic.



Kind Regards

Sally Laurie - Marketing Team


So, that's one company down. Now for Country Life & Anchor also Dairy Crest too. Until I get the response I like I'm either buying Yeo-Valley or soya!
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