An important part of the VanDrie Group are the 1100 veal farmers, who take care of the calves that become available from the dairy farming sector. As different as these calves are, as unique are the veal farmers that work with the VanDrie Group. However, there are also similarities, such as the devotion and care that the veal farmers put into their work, every single day.
Recently, we spoke to Jillis Slingerland, a veal farmer in Hall. Together with his wife and children, he keeps 1300 calves at the risk and account of Van Drie B.V. When you enter the farmyard, there is one thing you immediately notice that there is much space for green at the Slingerland household. Big trees and bushes are the basis of the garden. It appears that is no coincidence, in addition to being a veal farmer, Jillis is also active as horticulturist. Nature preservation, also for the lots around the calf husbandry, is just a part of what they do for the Slingerland household.
Animal health and welfare have top priority in the calf husbandry, says Jillis. For one, this shows itself with the sanitary gate present at the calf husbandry. Everyone wanting to enter the barn has to change into clean work clothing and shoes. Of course, you are also required to wash your hands thoroughly. This is one of ways in which veal farmers are committing to try and prevent the spread of bacteria or pathogens. Jillis: “We won’t let any opportunity to ensure the health of our animals go to waste: good feed, good care and hygiene, good living conditions. In the past, there has been much debate about the high usage of antibiotics on calves. We have been lowering the amount for years. Within the VanDrie Group, we have realised a reduction of 63% in 2020 relative to 2007.”
Upon entrance, the first things we notice are the spacious stables with daylight. Anneke explains: “We built this stable in 2018. We conform to the latest requirements: light stables and lots of space. Just look!” Jillis:” Besides, we are not doing this on our own; my father used to keep calves and often walks around the stables with us. It's in our family. Our children love to help with feeding. They are getting quite skilled at that,” Jillis tells us, visibly proud, “That is an extra motivating factor for us to work on a futureproof calf husbandry!”
We won’t let any opportunity to ensure the health of our animals go to waste: good feed, good care and hygiene, good living conditions. - Jillis Slingerland
Jillis and Anneke have noticed that there is much debate with regards to the veal farming sector and livestock farming.“We love to talk about our profession. Everybody has an opinion on farmers and veal farmers, but not everyone knows what we actually do at our farm.” That’s one of the reason why the Slingerland family became member of IJsselvallei Boert and Eet Bewust last year.
IJsselvallei Boert and Eet Bewust are working on the connection between farmers, horticulturists and society of the IJsselvallei. The initiative stimulates farmers with regards to corporate social responsibility in an open and transparent manner. Affiliated farmers are encouraged to involve their local surroundings in an innovative way with their company. To create real and open discussions and more mutual understanding.New plans are already in the making, says Anneke: “We would like to realise a skybox in the stable, to allow interested parties to peek into the stable through the windows and see for themselves how we farm.” Jillis adds: “Because we would like to bring the veal farming sector to attention by familiarizing people with our sector, and inviting them onto our farmyard.”