Ontario Veal Farming

Lighting and Ventilation in Veal Barns

Modern veal barns have artificial lighting overhead or receive natural sunlight through windows. Farmers house their calves in adequately lit barns to make it possible to monitor the calves regularly, to feed the animals and clean their environment. The absence of light has no effect on the colour or quality of the meat produced. Veal barns are typically insulated and heated during the winter and have year round ventilation to provide clean, fresh air.

Calf Health and Nutrition

Veal farmers carefully watch each calf to be sure it is not suffering any clinical symptoms of anemia, like weakness or loss of appetite. In the case of milk-fed calves, carefully controlled amounts of iron are given to meet their nutritional requirements but too much so that the meat would turn a very dark red. All veal calves are fed a well balanced diet with added energy, vitamins and minerals, including iron. Anemia is not desirable because it adversely effects health, feed conversion and average daily gain.

Calf Housing

Calves can be housed in either stalls, hutches or pens. The stalls are of adequate size to allow the calf to lie down, stand up, stretch out, groom themselves, as well as providing social interaction for the calf. Hutches are individual housing units that offer the calf more freedom to move around, but allow calves to develop their immune systems before living with other calves. Hutches are predominantly used in grain-fed veal production prior to the calves being weaned at 6-8 weeks of age. In pens, the calves have room for increased free movement and calves are grouped based on size and age in order to prevent bullying and competition. Most grain-fed and approximately 25% of milk-fed calves are housed in group pens.

What is a Typical Veal Farm?

Typical veal farms in Canada are family run. The farmers earn their living by raising calves in a healthy environment. They must also be kept up to date on modern technology and production practices in order to maintain and improve husbandry practices, animal health programs and management systems. The average farm size in Ontario would produce approximately 150-200 veal calves per year.

Food Safety

Antibiotics are not to be used in manufactured veal feeds unless prescribed by a veterinarian for the treatment of illness. Any medications used in animal feeds must be approves by Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate and a specific withdrawal period is assigned. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates animal feeds to ensure compliance. Animals will not pass inspection, either before or after processing in a licensed meat processing plant, if any violative residues are found in the animal or meat.