Cruel Confinement of Calves Raised for Veal
Sec. 1. Purpose
To address animal cruelty issues in regard to the restrictive confinement of calves raised for veal in agricultural settings and the inevitable health impacts of the confinement. By prohibiting the use of restrictive confinement techniques, the mental and physical health of calves and the safety of veal consumed are protected and promoted.
Sec. 2. Definitions
For the purposes of this act:
- "Calf" means any animal of the bovine species up to 9 months in age.
- "Calf raised for veal" means a calf raised with the intent of selling, marketing or distributing the meat, organs or any part of such calf as food product described as "veal."
- "Enclosure" means any cage, crate or other confined area in which a calf is kept for all or the majority of any day.
- "Person" means any natural person, corporation and/or business entity.
- "Turning around freely" means having the ability to turn around in a complete circle without any impediment, including a tether, and without touching any side of the enclosure.
- "Farm" means the land, buildings, support facilities, and other equipment that is wholly or partially used for the production of animals for food or fiber.
Sec. 3. Regulation
(a) A person shall not tether or confine any calf on a farm for all or the majority of the day in a manner that prevents such animal from:
- Lying down and fully extending its limbs; or
- Turning around freely.
(b) This section shall not apply:
- When a calf is undergoing an examination, test, treatment or operation carried out for veterinary purposes, provided the period during which the animal is confined or tethered is not longer than reasonably necessary.
Sec. 4. Penalties
(a) A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. A violation is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or by both imprisonment and a fine.
(b) The confinement or tethering of each calf shall constitute a separate offense.
In 2006 Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative that banned the use of confined crates in veal production. The new law requires that veal calves are raised in enclosures that allow them to turn around and fully extend their limbs. The European Union, as of December 31, 2006, has completely phased out the use of veal crates and the tethering of individual calves. These bans are joined by veal producers and restaurants that are also phasing out and eliminating the use of veal calves raised in cruel and unhealthy crates.
Furthermore, Strauss Veal, Marcho Farms, and Catelli Brothers, Inc., three of the United States' largest veal producers, announced in January of 2007 that they plan to phase out the use of veal crates. All plan to use crate-free group housing systems within the next three years. Restaurants and grocery stores such as Wolfgang Puck, Olive Garden, and Whole Foods also are refusing to sell veal from calves raised in crates. It is clear that the animal welfare and food safety issues that accompany raising veal are on the minds of those involved in production, sale, and consumption.
Veal calves are separated from their mothers within the first few days of birth and placed into confined crates where they are tethered by their necks and unable to move around freely. The calves do not exercise or move around for the duration of their lives, which typically lasts less than five months. The crates do not have bedding or straw, but typically have wooden slats for floors to allow urine and feces to fall through. The goal of the intense confinement is to limit muscle development and increase weight gain so that the veal meat is tender. Veal calves are given a liquid diet that is purposely deficient in iron and fiber to produce borderline anemia and create a desired meat color and taste.
When denied wholesome food and exercise, calves develop physical and mental disorders that greatly impair their health. Among the physical disorders are abnormal gut development, stomach ulceration, physical discomfort, impaired locomotion, and a greater susceptibility to disease. The mental disorders range from frustration, food refusals, stress, boredom, social isolation, and abnormal coping behaviors. Veal calves in confined crates are unhealthy and lead a bleak existence. They are unable to engage in normal social activity, exercise, or consume wholesome food. The byproduct is sick calves that inevitably lead to unhealthy meat.
Ill and sickly calves are often given antibiotics and injected with hormones which can be dangerous to humans. In 2004 the United States Department of Agriculture began an investigation that revealed nearly 90% of veal calves are illegally fed synthetic testosterone. In addition to the illegal use of hormones, toxic substances such as clenbuterol have been found in veal calves. The illegal use of hormones and toxins found in veal are threats to human health. Clenbuterol, even in small amounts, can cause heart problems, breathing difficulties, and even death.
When veal calves are confined to small crates and fed unhealthy liquid diets, they become very ill and experience mental trauma. In addition to the health issues that the calves must face, the consumption of veal produced in this way poses a health risk to humans. By eliminating confined crates, veal production will become healthier for the calves and for the consumers.
The Daily Table, "Arizona Bans Sow and Veal Crates", www.sustainabletable.org, November 10, 2006.
Farm Sanctuary, "Another Corporate Farm Backflips", www.farmsanctuary.com, January 31, 2007.
Peta, "Veal: A Byproduct of the Cruel Dairy Industry", www.peta.org.
Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13.2910.07 (2006)
The Humane Society, "An HSUS Report: The Economics of Adopting Alternative Production Systems to Veal Crates", www.hsus.com, March 10, 2006.