The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme aims to improve the welfare of as many farm animals as possible by providing an environment that better meets their behavioural needs. The Scheme has recently published animal welfare standards for dairy veal calves.
Key aspects of the Approved Farming Scheme standards for dairy veal calves include:
Good animal welfare relies on meeting an animal’s physiological needs (for example good health, good nutrition, comfortable housing), good stockpersonship (for example low-stress animal handling), providing for innate behavioural needs (for example, in veal calves, the ability to suckle, chew, ruminate, the company of other calves), and providing the opportunity to have positive experiences (for example through play and locomotor behaviours, through active engagement with their surroundings). Good welfare can be achieved where calves are provided with sufficient space to play in the company of other calves, sufficient quantity of milk to prevent hunger and competition at the feeder, teat feeders to satisfy the need to suckle, and roughage to promote chewing and rumination and express foraging behaviour, and bedding to allow for thermal comfort as well as nesting.