Posts Tagged ‘Calves raised in calf hutches’

You Can’t Believe Everything You Read

This picture and information periodically makes it way around social media. It is full of totally false and misleading information. Let me tell you why….

False Info on Calf Hutches

This is not a veal or beef operation. Veal is not raised this way and beef calves are raised by their moms. This is a very large dairy operation.  The person who took the picture took it from the back instead of the front.  Let me tell you about the hutches….

If you notice each hutch is immaculately clean which is amazing for such a large operation but it shows the care and respect that the farmer has for the welfare of his livestock.  Each hutch also has a ventilation vent in the back with an open front. The hutch measures 79″ long, 54″ high and 46″ wide.  If you figure the size of the hutch and the size of the newborn calf, the calf has more square foot for its size than a horse in a 10’x10′ stall.  With the hutch, the calf has protection from the weather (rain and sun), ventilation, an exercise area and its own private space which helps prevent disease.

If you look very closely at the first row at the bottom of the picture, you will notice there is a wire fence area in front of each hutch for the calf to have a romping area in the sunshine.  The picture below shows similar hutches from the front.


If the picture had been taken from the front, you would have seen happy calves napping on a pile of clean straw, with feed and water close by.  The calves are bottle fed milk twice a day.

Before they are taken from their mothers, they have gotten several good feedings of colostrum milk (a mother’s first milk) which is essential for healthy calves to thrive and survive.  The separation of calf and mother is seldom stressful. Within a few minutes or hours, she has forgotten about her calf and the calf almost never reacts. But if they are weaned at several months, that is a different story. We have found beef cattle to be much more protective of their young.

One thing people have to remember is the importance of animals in our own existence and health. We need milk to drink.  A cow can not produce milk for a nursing calf and for human consumption as the calf would get it all. For us to have milk to drink and the many other wonderful and necessary food items such as butter, cheese, ice-cream, baby formulas, yogurt, cottage cheese, puddings, cream, etc. the calf has to be raised by hand-feeding.  This is true if you have one backyard cow, a medium size herd or a very large operation.

The calves live in the hutches for several months until they are weaned. They are then moved to a larger fenced-in pasture area with other calves where they grow to maturity in two years and become dairy cows themselves.

I personally would love to visit a farm like this. I can’t imagine feeding that many calves and how much time and the number of people it would take.  There is some speculation the photo is photoshopped. Maybe. Maybe not.  Very large farms will produce a lot of calves.