by SUSAN MANN
Ontario’s veal industry supports the work of American veal farmers to switch their animal housing to group pens by 2017.
But unlike the American industry, which is mainly milk-fed veal, the industry in Ontario is predominately grain-fed veal and the animals here are already in group housing, notes Jennifer Haley, executive director of the Ontario Veal Association. The one company that raises milk-fed veal in Ontario has made “huge steps to group housing efforts already voluntarily.”
In the United States, the American Veal Association voted unanimously in favour of a resolution in 2007 calling for all veal farmers in that country to change their operations to group housing. A recent survey reveals that 70 per cent of veal calves raised by association members will be housed in group pens by the end of this year, it says in an association press release.
The American association estimates that U.S. veal farmers will spend $250 million over 10 years on new technology to retrofit or build new barns to accommodate group-housing methods. Veal farms in the U.S. are typically small family farms with 200 to 250 animals. They are generally located in states with significant dairy production where farmers raise the male Holstein calves born on dairy farms and utilize the milk by-products from those farms.
Haley says this is an important issue “in terms of consumer perceptions and understanding in how we raise our animals.” The Ontario industry applauds American veal farmers for voluntarily changing to group housing at their own expense. “It’s fantastic.” BF