14 April 2000
Cautious welcome for veal plan

By Isabel Davies

ANIMAL welfare campaigners cautiously approved an initiative to rear welfare-friendly veal in Britain and export the meat to the Continent.

The project, which was unveiled in Wales on Thursday (13 April), was launched in England at Kingsley Hill Farm near Heathfield, East Sussex.

Veal calves from British farms will be fed on French milk to British welfare standards, finished in straw yards, and then exported deadweight.

The RSPCA said it had supported high-welfare veal schemes in the past, and would be interested in seeing the conditions in which the animals would be kept.

Peter Stevenson, political and legal director of Compassion in World Farming, said rearing animals in a welfare-friendly way was preferable to live exports.

“For a lot of the British public, the rearing of calves for veal will never be acceptable,” he said.

“But a system with plenty of space, straw, good ventilation, fresh air and plenty of daylight can be a good system.”

The scheme is part-funded by the Welsh Development Agency. It involves British farmers, Kent-based Anglo Dutch Meats and the French firm Serval SA.

It aims to put some value back into British dairy bull calves, which have been almost worthless since the end of the Calf Processing Aid Scheme last July.

No veal will be exported to France until the French ban on British beef is lifted. But talks have been held with potential buyers from Holland and Belgium.