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New-born calves shot
Posted 3 September 2008
Dutch and Belgian veal producers are boycotting British livestock imports following reports that a number of calves exported to the Netherlands were found to have bovine tuberculosis. Unable to send new-born bull calves off to European veal markets, UK farmers are choosing to shoot up to 3,000 animals each week instead.
The national media has been full of sob stories from farmers. The chairman of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) dairy board issued a statement saying, 'It is very upsetting to have them destroyed and is contrary to farmers' instincts, which are to keep animals alive and to do the best for them.' It is not loss of an innocent life that has upset the dairy farmers, but loss of income.
Dairy cows are continually made pregnant to feed our milk habit and, as a result, each year up to 500,000 male dairy calves are born, only to be treated as 'waste by-products'. Even before the export boycott, many were shot in the head just days after birth, because there was no market for them. It could be argued that such a death is preferable to the alternative: a punishing overseas journey to continental veal farms where they are kept until trucked to a slaughterhouse.
The NFU insists that the UK needs to adopt new measures so that male dairy calves can be used to meet demand for British beef. Instead, the kindest option is to go vegan so that calves need not be shot at all.