Welcome to the farm. Veal farmers are committed to the values that have guided American farmers for generations. Farmers know animals raised for food deserve the highest standards of care, and compassion. They are committed to ensuring consumer expectations are met for producing safe and wholesome food raised responsibly.
Watch this video to visit some farms and see how milk-fed veal calves are raised today.
What is veal? Veal is a nutritious and nutrient-rich meat that is produced from the male offspring of dairy cows. Dairy cows give birth once a year in order to continue producing milk. While female calves grow up to serve as cows in the milking herd, male (bull) calves are either sold to veal farmers or beef farmers. Milk-fed veal calves where they may be are raised for 6 months and weigh about 500 pounds when marketed as veal. Other farmers and ranchers raise calves can also be fed to approximately 1200 pounds and marketed them as beef.
When veal farming came to the U.S in the mid-1900s from Europe, their system of confinement and an all-milk diet was thought to be the best approach for creating tender, white meat. Today, veal farmers are doing things very differently. Calves are raised in group-pens without tethers, and their diets of milk and grain are rich in iron and other nutrients. The internationally recognized Five Freedoms of Animal Wellbeing help guide U.S. veal farmers in raising veal today. These principles ensure animals have appropriate space, lighting, air quality, food and water.
Veal farms are located near dairy farms primarily in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. Most family farms raise about 200 calves.
There are three types of veal raised and marketed today:
“Special-fed” or “Milk-fed” veal: Special-fed veal calves (also known as milk-fed and formula-fed veal calves) are fed nutritionally-balanced milk or soy-based diets. These specially-controlled diets contain iron and 40 other essential nutrients, including amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. These calves are given grain and provided water daily. Special-fed calves are marketed at about 500 pounds and six months of age.
“Non-special fed” or “Pasture-raised veal”: Non-special-fed veal calves are fed a variety of diets, including milk replacer, grain and forages (hay, silage, or pasture). They are marketed at live weights of 151 to 400 pounds.
“Bob” veal: These veal calves are marketed through sale barns or directly from dairy farmers after birth and up to three weeks of age, or a weight of less than 150 pounds.
Take a virtual visit to a veal farm through the following video and see where veal comes from.
Did you know?
Practices such as castration, dehorning, and tail docking are not necessary in raising veal. Additionally, hormone implants are not permitted for use in veal production.