This year we have been part of a project in which we raised 2 male dairy cows on my fiancé’s dairy farm in Staffordshire. The two calves, born in February this year have spent a happy year in a field with 220 young female calves – what a life!!
They were born and brought up undercover, in large, airy barns with 15 other calves, fed on a diet of milk and nuts. In the spring, when the weather was good they were turned out into large grass fields with ad lib grass and nuts once a day.
Dairy Bull Calves
What many people don’t realise is that Bull calves born into the dairy industry are redundant, and many are shot at birth – they can’t produce milk and do not have the right genetics to make them into a valuable Beef animal. Given the low market for Veal it is not economical to rear them for meat. The Soil Association is currently looking at ways to improve this situation – at present the wastage of bull calves is unacceptable and unethical.
After 9 months (in September) they were sent to a local abbertoire and then hung for 2 weeks before we butchered them with Dave, from Lower Hurst Farm, who specialises in Beef Butchery and French Cuts.
We are now enjoying experimenting with different cuts – a beautiful rolled for-rib for a roast, tender Poire and Onglette (French cuts) quickly pan fried with a cider and apple sauce, Shin and Ox tail for slow cooking with delicate herbs and spices and veal mince as a hand rolled sausage with mace, lemon and herbs.
It’s seriously important that it is GRASSFED for a number of reasons. Firstly it clearly distinguishes the meat from products like white veal & reassures the customer that it has been reared on healthy pastures in a very humane rearing system. Secondly the grassfed ensures a great ROSE colour (bright red pink) which is important for retail presentation. Lastly the grassfed management ensures the high Omega 3 content which Bristol University has shown pertains to beef fed on pasture.
It would be great to see high welfare Veal in this country ‘take off’ again – it is a fantastic meat which, produced in the right way should be a tribute to this country.