History of Veal Feeding
Veal is meat produced from calves about 500 pounds and 6 months of age. Veal is a light pink color and a good source of key nutrients like protein, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, niacin, riboflavin, zinc, selenium, and choline.
Veal has been enjoyed for centuries because of its tender and delicious flavor. Eating the meat from young calves is referenced frequently in the Bible. The “fatted calf” was regarded as the most choice of all meats.
Romans also enjoyed veal and the consumption spread throughout early Europe. Austrians and Italians create wiener schnitzel- a popular dish made with veal cutlet that is breaded and pan fried. Veal is also prominent in French cuisine and Italian cooking.
Veal farming spread from Europe to the United States more than 100 years ago. Most of U.S. veal farms are located in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The basis of their diet starts with a milk replacement. Veal calves also have free access to grain and all the water they can drink. Electrolytes are offered as needed. Veal calves are very efficient at feed conversion, averaging around 1.8-2 pounds of feed per pound of weight gained.
Veal calves are sourced from a dairy farm or sale barn and are usually raised at another site. When calves arrive at the veal farm, they often start out in individual pens to decrease the spread of disease. After about 8 weeks they are then grouped with other calves. Milk is fed up to about 22 weeks of age.
Veal farmers work very hard to keep their calves healthy and comfortable. A veterinarian oversees the health and well-being of the calves. Many farms choose to be certified by the Veal Quality Assurance Program which documents that best management practices are followed on each farm and that veal farmers are continually learning and progressing in their industry.
Written by: Mariah Gull, M.S.