Problems with Handling and Transporting Newborn Holstein Bobby Calves

by Temple Grandin

Compared to many of the beef breeds, newborn Holstein dairy calves are much weaker. They take longer to stand and walk after birth. Before calves are transported, they should have a dried up naval cord and be able to walk without assistance from a person. The one exception to this recommendation would be transportation for a short distance to a specialized calf rearing facility.

I have observed severe abuses of newborn calves while they were being handled in auctions or slaughter plants. This is especially a problem if the calves are shipped before they are able to walk easily. One really bad practice is shocking calves mulitple times with an electric prod to make them get up and walk. It is my opinion that shocking calves which are too young to walk easily is a severe animal welfare problem that should be stopped. The best way to solve this problem is to keep the cavles on the farm until they can walk easily. Plants that slaughter newborn calves to make "bob" veal should either refuse to accept calves which have difficulty walking or deduct money from producer pay meats. In the pork industry, financial penalties for each pig that was too waek to walk from the truck to the stunner greatly reduced the numers of weak or non-ambulatory pigs.

If a newborn calf refuses to walk it should be put on a cart, sled, or other conveyance to move it. It must never be thrown, dropped, or dragged.

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