Responsible transportation of calves
Together with our stakeholders, we believe it is very important that calves are handled with due care and attention. This is especially important if they have to be transported over long distances and is something that we also ask of our shipping agents. Calves must be transported in a responsible manner.
European legislation places strict conditions on long-distance transport. At their core lies attention for young animals. The legislation covers travel time, rest periods, load factor and the quality of the vehicle. Calves must be at least 14 days old and must have been declared healthy by a veterinarian before they may be transported over a longer distance.
We transport many calves using Comfort Class trucks. These trucks are modern and are fitted with air conditioning that can be tailored to the needs of young animals. Because the trucks are sealed, no outside drafts can get in. The trucks are well-lit inside, which allows the calves to see each other. The floor is covered in straw and the calves have access to water during transport.
The veal industry conducts extensive research into ways to improve long-distance transport. Together with the Dutch Calf Industry Association (Stichting Brancheorganisatie Kalversector, or SBK), Wageningen University and others in the industry, we started the Vitaal en gezond kalf (Fit and healthy calf) study, in which we test a range of transportation conditions. In doing so, we examine the natural behaviour and attitudes of calves during transport, as well as how calves can best recover after their journey.
Long-distance transport carries a certain risk of the transmission of animal diseases. As a result, the veal industry has fully focused its attention on risk management, which is why the Foundation for Quality Guarantee of the Veal Sector (SKV) was established in 1990. The SKV (link to SKV website) is an independent, accredited foundation. The SKV has set up a quality system to trace imported calves during the entire transportation process: the GTSKV system (SKV Veal Calf Tracing Guarantee System). Tracing during all stages of the transport is of the utmost importance in the event of an outbreak of an infectious animal disease.
The GTSKV system specifies various strict conditions, such as the requirement that a vehicle may only transport calves from one country of origin, hygiene requirements placed on the vehicles, quarantine requirements placed on the veal farms, welfare requirements at collection centres and prior notification of transport movements. Calves are placed in long-term quarantine with the Dutch veal farmer as soon as they arrive from their country of origin. If the GTSKV conditions are not met, a fine may be imposed.
The SKV continually monitors the various developments in the European member states. In the event that certain areas are at risk of animal disease, preventative measures are placed on the Dutch integrations, in which case imports may be limited (via channelling regulations) or halted. When imports are halted, the SKV will issue an import ban.
Increasing numbers of calves from the immediate area
The number of calves that the industry has been sourcing from distant Eastern European countries has been declining for years. Figures from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) show the following:
|Country of origin of imported calves||Difference observed in the period 2012-2017 in the number of calves imported from that country|
|Estonia||- 39,2 %|
|Lithuania||- 81,2 %|
|Latvia||- 31,1 %|
|Poland||- 98 %|