Did you see Jimmy and The Giant Supermarket on Channel 4 last night?
In a new series, Jimmy Doherty is attempting to increase the uptake of welfare friendly meat by large retailers (Tescos) and, once again, the plight of male dairy calves has been raised.
Viewers witnessed three male Jersey calves being shot within 24 hours of birth after Jimmy explained that “Every year, on average, nearly 90,000 male calves are shot at birth because there is no market for them. They could be raised for veal but people won’t buy it because of how veal used to be reared back in the 80’s. Today, on the Continent, welfare standards for veal are much lower but British rose veal is high welfare. However, the stigma remains and male dairy calves have become a waste product. I think it’s a scandal but most dairy farmers won’t even discuss the issue.”
To see the programme in full visit or the Channel 4 On Demand website or follow the link www.channel4.com/programmes/jimmy-and-the-giant-supermarket/4od#3354633
Producing veal may be the answer for some farmers and the saviour of their male calves. But, if we are to really address this issue, we have to stop breeding worthless male calves. The shooting of these animals is not an inevitable consequence of producing milk! Male calves from robust cows such as the Friesian and Montbeliarde have real value for beef. However, messages in the media that label male dairy calves as a ‘waste product’ do enormous harm to our industry. There is a real danger that consumers will be turned off milk and dairy products if they believe their consumption results in the shooting of innocent animals.
Free Range Dairy is very much about providing cows with the freedom to graze and producing healthy milk from a truly sustainable system. But, no matter how many days you graze your cows, the shooting of male calves is not acceptable. Free Range Dairy producers will be required to demonstrate that they are moving towards producing male calves of real value.