What goes on at calf collection points?

In order to supply the market with sufficient volumes, calves are being imported to the Netherlands. More than 75% of these calves come from the neighbouring countries of Germany and Belgium.


The Dutch veal sector imports a part of its calves from abroad. This is because that not enough calves are born in the Netherlands. The veal market is an international market that requires sufficient volume to supply retailers, food service and other buyers. More than 75% of the imported calves come from the neighbouring countries of Germany and Belgium.

Calves from abroad are collected at calf collection points first. Gejo Boerkamp, who manages a collection point just across border in Germany, explains the import process. “In the morning, calves are transported from the German regions to our company, where we place them in large pens filled with straw. Upon arrival, the calves are able to drink and are sorted by size and weight.” This sorting process requires a well-trained, professional eye, for the animals are grouped accurately to within a kilogramme of each other without the use of scales or a tape measure. “This sorting method is important for the calves’ health,”  Boerkamp explains. “By putting animals of the same size together, we make the work of the veal farmers easier. In this way we contribute to good animal health. Grouping calves that are equally as strong means that we can use less antibiotics. During the sorting process, a distinction is made between calves from meat breeds and the famous Holstein dairy cattle breed. Thanks to proper prior planning, veal farmers receive a uniform pair of calves, which is beneficial to the animals’ growth and health.”

After resting, the calves continue their journey to the Netherlands. Before the calves are transported, they are first inspected by a state veterinarian. The vet checks the animals’ documents and origins and then issues an export licence and a health certificate. Boerkamp: “Imported calves come mainly from countries that are more advanced in terms of combating animal diseases than the Netherlands. In theory, therefore, the import of animal diseases through the import of calves is unlikely. The extra veterinary inspection ensures that only healthy calves of known origin cross the Dutch border 30 kilometres away.

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