Veal calves should not be isolated in pens after birth, EU says

Paired or group housing is preferred
calendar icon 30 March 2023
clock icon 1 minute read

Veal calves should not be kept in individual pens during their first weeks of life in order to improve animal welfare, Reuters reported, citing the EU Food and Safety Authority (EFSA).

Instead, they should be housed in pairs or small groups and have sufficient space to rest and play and be provided comfortable bedding, scientists at the EFSA said in a report.

A newborn calf is usually removed from his mother immediately or a few hours after birth. Whereas, in nature, they lie together in groups whilst their mothers move off to graze.

Every year more than 300 million farmed animals spend all or part of their lives in cages, pens or stalls, according to advocacy group Compassion in World Farming.

"Separating the cow and her calf and confining the newborn in an individual pen causes great and prolonged distress to both," Compassion in World Farming said in a statement.

Current EU law allows for calves to be removed soon after birth to be shut into an individual pen for up to 8 weeks.

The European Commission announced in 2021 the phase out of cages in animal farming across the EU by 2027, with a legislative proposal to come by the end of 2023.

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