Help Save Downed Veal Calves from Cruelty | Animal Law Coalition

Sunday, 8 November 2009
Help Save Downed Veal Calves from Cruelty Animal Law Coalition

Posted Nov 5, 2009 by lauraallen Farm AnimalsA U.S. Dept. of Agriculture regulation, 9 CFR 309.13(b), has meant brutally cruel treatment for veal calves. The regulation states that "[v]eal calves that are unable to rise from a recumbent position and walk because they are tired or cold may also be set apart and held.... The U.S. Condemned identification tag will be removed by a Program employee following treatment under such supervision if the animal is found to be free from any such disease."

In other words, unlike other non-ambulatory or "downed" cows, calves used for veal can still be slaughtered instead of humanely euthanized. Indeed, the Humane Society of the United States recently released undercover video that captured terrible treatment of these animals at the Bushway Packing Inc plant in Grand Isle, Vermont. A USDA inspector is said to have stood by and allowed the owner of the plant and its employees mercilessly drag, shove, beat, kick, and use electric prods, sometimes with water to make it worse, on calves that could not stand on their own. The animals were slaughtered while alive. For more, see the video below. It is egregious, vicious animal cruelty.

The USDA and Vermont Agency of Agriculture have shut down this plant pending an investigation.

In response to the video, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release: "The deplorable scenes recorded in the video released by the Humane Society of the United States are unequivocally unacceptable. The callous behavior and attitudes displayed in the video clearly appear to be violations of USDA's humane handling regulations.

"USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is investigating these alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). FSIS took immediate action with respect to its employee and the establishment upon preliminary verification of the incident. The Department fully supports the investigation of all those involved in these alleged violations of the HMSA. To this end, I have also called on our Inspector General to conduct a criminal investigation of the events in the video."

Veal calves are brutally treated their whole lives, long before they reach a slaughter house like Bushway.

Veal calves are those male calves that are unwanted and removed from their mothers immediately after birth; they are confined often by tethers for life in tiny 2' wide stalls where they cannot move. The close confinement is calculated not only to encourage weight gain, but also to keep their muscles weak to ensure their meat will be tender.

The calves are fed a liquid milk diet. The diet is deficient in iron and fiber and is actually designed to cause anemia to give their meat that light color. The calves are not given any bedding or straw for fear they will eat it and cause their meat to be dark. Instead, they lie on slats that allow their urine and feces to fall through to a pit below. The inadequate diet causes abnormal gut development and stomach ulcerations; the calves are prone to illness and disease.

The calves suffer great frustration, boredom, and stress as a result of isolation from their mothers and herd. They are prevented from grazing, grooming, stretching, all important behaviors for them. They enjoy no natural behaviors or interactions.

The European Union bans treatment of veal calves in this way.

Regardless, non-ambulatory veal calves should not be subjected to such brutality or slaughtered at all.

You can help stop at least this cruelty. These animals should be humanely euthanized. Call on the Secretary of the USDA, Tom Vilsack (1) to amend the regulations to ban slaughter of downed veal calves, (2) enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act which requires no animal should be slaughtered while conscious. The Humane Society of the United States is also calling for an overhaul of the USDA inspection program. No inspector should stand by and allow such cruelty. HSUS is calling as well for a ban on transport of veal calves that are less than 10 days old.

Secretary Tom Vilsack

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, DC 20250

Phone: 202-720-3631


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