A recently published paper by Drs Veissier, Schenkenfelder and Pomiès summarises the evidence for poorer animal welfare outcomes for male vs female dairy calves. It also provides six approaches to increase the economic value of male dairy calves:
- Extending the calving-to-calving interval e.g., from 12 to 18 months has the potential to reduce the number of calves by 33 %
- Labelling – quality assurance (QA) to guarantee that male dairy calves are well cared for, examples are provided from Austria & Switzerland – the QA supports a premium price for the calves or the milk, covering the additional care costs.
- Using sexed semen of dairy breeds for restocking in combination with beef breed semen for surplus calves
- Slaughtering calves at a younger age for veal meat, since slaughter age for veal production strongly increased in Europe over the last decades
- Using dual purpose breeds (for milk and beef production)
- Reducing consumption of animal products
For more information: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.animal.2023.100885