Facts Sheet

The special fed/milk fed veal industry was born in the United States in the mid 1960’s in part, as a result of a need to relieve the US dairy industry of its unneeded byproducts.

The veal industry purchases Holstein breed bull (male) calves from the dairies (only the females are needed for milk production at the dairy).  In turn, the veal industry feeds the bulls a milk formula consisting primarily of whey – the principal byproduct of cheese manufacturing – and in the past, a source of environmental and landfill problems as disposal proved difficult.

The bulls are fed and cared for, individually in computerized, climate controlled buildings for a period of typically 20-22 weeks at which point they go to market weighing between 450-500 pounds.

On account of this superior diet and care, the veal industry suffers among the lowest sickness and death rates in all of animal agriculture, and veal is widely regarded as among the most tender and tasty of all available meat products.  Other relevant facts:

  • The US special fed veal industry consists of approximately 1000 family farmers with an average capacity of 200-225 head, making the veal industry the epitome of the American small family farm.
  • By the year 2017 at the latest, the veal industry has pledged to grow crate free animals. Numerous voting initiatives are proposing to greatly speed up that timeline.
  • Industry production is primarily confined to six States with Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Indiana serving as our State leaders in production.
  • The American Veal Association, formed in the early 1980’s and restructured in 2004 represents industry producers, packer/processors and feed companies by addressing the legislative, regulatory and NGO sponsored animal activism concerns of the industry.
  • American Veal Association constituents produce annual sales of approximately $1.5 billion.
  • Veal industry members purchase roughly $350 million in product directly from the dairy industry per annum.
  • The AVA’s Veal Quality Assurance (VQA) program was created in 1998. This program certifies our producers in the regulatory requirements that govern the production of our animals, as well as in humane care methods and general animal husbandry practices. This program was one of the first of its kind of any livestock group, and was considered one of the most stringent, requiring an on farm audit by the attending veterinarian.