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Veal cattle in group housing
The real deal about veal
Pro le
Kirk Jackson
Kirk Jackson raises dairy cattle on the shores
of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. The farm was started by Kirk’s parents in 1974, though he of cially took over in 1998. Currently, he employs one full-time and one part-time employee to
help manage their farm and animals. Kirk says
his passion for farming is rooted in his love of animals and the land, and he likes to support other farmers by staying involved in provincial farming associations. His wife Jose is also a large animal veterinarian with her own practice, and helps take care of the animals.
“It’s cliché to say, but farming really is about values,” says Kirk. “You see the cycle of life, know you’re producing food for people, and it’s something we have a passion for”.
Sometimes in the summer, you’ll see what look like giant marshmallows sitting in  elds. They are actually hay bales containing plants such as clover, grass, and alfalfa. To make the bales, hay is cut and covered in white waterproof wrapping material. Hay is an important part of many animals’ diets, and wrapping helps to keep it dry. If hay isn’t as dry as it should be when it is baled, microorganisms within the hay will cause
it to heat up, resulting in mold. In extreme cases, it can even become hot enough to start a  re.
Veal cattle (bulls) are the male offspring of dairy cows. They are raised for meat since they cannot produce milk. There are two types of veal production in Canada:
• Grain-fed veal cattle eat a milk-based diet before being switched to grain and  bre. Grain-fed veal cattle are brought to market once they reach a weight of 285 to 323 kg.
• Milk-fed veal cattle are raised primarily on a milk-based diet, though some grain and  bre is also included. Milk-fed veal cattle are brought to market once they reach a weight of 200 to 225 kg. For comparison, a full-grown beef animal weighs approximately 540 kg at processing.
To prevent sickness and to promote health, veal cattle can be raised in individual stalls (i.e. hutches) during the  rst weeks of life. Afterwards, they move into group housing. As with any farm animal, veal health and welfare are top priorities, with research ongoing in all areas of management. The national Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Veal Cattle has also been recently updated (see page 54 for more).
To take a virtual tour of two Canadian veal farms, visit
Giant  eld marshmallows?
The Real Dirt on Farming 13
Kirk Jackson

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