Veal is the meat of male dairy animals. A dairy cow must have a calf in order to produce milk. Female calves, called heifers, are raised to have their own calves and produce milk themselves when they are mature. Male calves, called bulls, are not able to produce milk so they are raised for meat instead, similar to beef cattle. Raising veal cattle is one way farmers contribute to sustainable food production and a circular food economy – making sure everything that is produced has a purpose to reduce waste as much as possible. Grain-fed veal cattle are raised on a mainly milk-based diet until they’re around eight weeks old, before transitioning to a balanced ration based on grain and pellets made of protein, vitamins and minerals and a small amount of fibre. They reach market weight around 340 kilograms (750 pounds). Professional livestock nutritionists work with farmers to make sure their veal cattle are fed a healthy, balanced diet. All veal cattle are raised in group housing with others of a similar age. They are housed in well-ventilated barns and are bedded with straw or wood shavings so they stay clean, dry, and comfortable. Ontario and Quebec are the largest Canadian producers of veal cattle because they also have the greatest number of dairy farms. Milk-fed veal cattle are also raised in some parts of Canada. Holsteins are the most common breed of veal cattle. They grow quickly, are well-muscled, and very lean
Did you know...
That milk replacer (used to feed young veal cattle) is also part of the circular economy? It’s made from byproducts of dairy processing, such as cheese-making for example, helping the industry be more sustainable and reduce food waste.
About beef cattle
Specific breeds of cattle that are raised for meat are called beef cattle. Canada’s major beef cattle breeds include Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Simmental, Limousin, MaineAnjou, Galloway, Gelbvieh, and Shorthorn, and farmers choose which breed or breeds to raise based on the characteristics of each breed. Beef cows and their calves typically live on pasture or range land during spring, summer, and fall, eating mostly a grass diet. Their thick hide and coat means that, with adequate shelter and free access to feed and water, they can live outdoors comfortably all year long. When beef cattle reach a weight of 362 to 453 kg (about 800 to 1000 pounds), they usually move from fields and ranges to open-air yards or barns called feedlots,
where they can be managed more closely. In feedlots, cattle are slowly switched from a high forage diet (grasses and other plants) to a higher energy diet of grains (like barley or corn), minerals, and hay. This process helps to gradually adjust the microorganisms in the rumen and create the marbled, high-quality grades of beef that Canadians and other global markets expect. Marbling is the existence of small white flecks of fat that run through lean meat, which contributes to juiciness, flavour and tenderness.