Veal Crates and Plastic Hutches

But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.

Recently whilst travelling along the north-west coast here in the UK I was shocked to see outside a farm veal crates rather like those you see in the picture below – at least I thought these were veal crates.


Except these contraptions are not veal crates as I later found out. Veal crates are literally that, crates, like the one in the following photo. Here in this tight confinement this poor little newborn calf  and millions of others like him will remain until they are slaughtered for veal.


The veal crate is a wooden restraining device that is the veal calf’s permanent home. It is so small (22″ x 54″) that the calves cannot turn around or even lie down and stretch and is the ultimate in high-profit, confinement animal agriculture.  Designed to prevent movement (exercise), the crate does its job of atrophying the calves’ muscles, thus producing tender “gourmet” veal.

About 14 weeks after their birth, the calves are slaughtered. The quality of this “food,” laden with chemicals, lacking in fiber and other nutrients, diseased and processed, is another matter. The real issue is the calves’ experience. During their brief lives, they never see the sun or touch the Earth. They never see or taste the grass. Their anemic bodies crave proper sustenance. Their muscles ache for freedom and exercise. They long for maternal care. They are kept in darkness except to be fed two to three times a day for 20 minutes. The calves have committed no crime, yet have been sentenced to a fate comparable to any Nazi concentration camp.

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Apparently veal crates like the one above have been banned in the UK and throughout the EU but are still in use in many countries .

Calves though continue to suffer as they are housed in isolation in these plastic hutches. As with the veal crates a calf will spend his first few months of life in these tiny plastic contraptions away from his mother and other calves until he is eventually slaughtered. These hutches if used in accordance with the animal welfare ruling here in the UK should provide a hay rack and a tiny outside pen as you see in the picture below. Though this picture is from the USA the set up is similar.


When I first saw this image, I momentarily mistook it for a cemetery, one of those filled with long, neat rows of unmarked graves or “unknowns.” How fitting, then, that what it actually is is a photo of dairy calves in hutches. Calves born to dairy cows are torn from their mothers within hours of birth, in order for humans to steal the milk intended for them. Male calves are sold to auction to be slaughtered for veal or cheap beef, while female calves are typically raised in “calf hutches,” little plastic igloos or dog-house-type structures with a few feet of fenced in dirt in front. They live this way, in complete isolation, for the first 2 to 3 months of their lives. They do not leave the hutches to run or play, and in order to prevent the possibility of young calves spreading sickness amongst themselves (a potential profit loss), they are not even allowed to touch each other. This, during the time when they are most in need of touch, most of all from their own mothers, with whom they would normally be grazing, nuzzling, and experiencing the greatest bond any mammal ever knows.

Read more about these hutches. Though the information included refers to the USA the same applies here in the UK and in many countries around the world.

Plastic Hutches System

Though they are an improvement to the crate system as they let in light and fresh air and allow some small increase in movement, albeit in a tiny pen outside, and the calves are provided with hay and are not standing on a concrete floor, they are nonetheless a cruel confinement. In many countries both veal crates and hutches are used.

The hutches are used for a while before the calves are put into a group pen. The idea is supposedly to help them develop an immune system.

The hutch system is still nowhere near not good enough, conditions for calves need to be vastly improved. Cattle should be in meadows within social groups the mother rearing her calf. Though the obvious solution and the only humane and ethical one is of  course to stop rearing and slaughtering animals for meat and other products. 

The plastic hutches are a small improvement but still inhumane. Going outside is a bit of a stretch and only applies if taken literally for the pen enclosure provides nothing more than a few feet of fenced in dirt, no room to walk let alone run and experience the freedom of movement so vital to the well-being of any animal, most particular baby animals.

Calves not only bake in hutches in the noon-day sun in California, they freeze after winter calving in Maryland. These hutches are for heifer calves on St Brigid’s Dairy in Maryland US. Photos taken after a blizzard in 2010.


Read more and view more photographs:

Here are examples of the measurements of these plastic contraptions – very hot I would think in the summertime anywhere in the world.

For a small breeds :

(mm) L1651 x W1270 x H1270 (“) L65 x W50 x H50

For larger breeds:
(mm)L1956 x W1448 x H1320 – (“)L77x W57 x H52

For 8 calves :
Dimensions: (mm) L3404 x W2184 x H1925 (inch) L134 x W86 x H75

Watch the video to get an idea of how cramped these hutches are: – this is a commercial to sell these awful hutches. Notice comments has been disabled. Perhaps they are not too keen to know what people think of their cruel inhumane methods of farming.

I have to say it saddens me greatly to think of these baby animals stuck in these tiny hutches away from their mothers, even though there is more space than the former crates it is still very small and does not allow any real movement of any significance.

Maybe a tiny improvement on veal crates though keep in mind they are not the same thing and the production of traditional veal still requires the poor creature to be stuck in a veal crate in the dark, unable to move. The hutches are still nonetheless a tight confinement for a young animal full of life and vigour. An animal who wishes to run about unrestricted to be with his mother and other calves. Veal crates are usually for male calves only because they are not useful for milk production. Some female calves are also turned into veal because they are not needed for dairy production. The excess dairy calves who are considered to be the wrong breed to be useful for beef production are usually slaughtered for veal when they are between 8 and 16 weeks old.

There was no safe place to stop and there was in any case no one about. But had there been I would have liked to have asked the farmer how he could place into this tight container a thinking feeling living sentient being. A baby calf born only an hour before being torn away from his mother. I would like to ask what kind of person has the heart mind and mentality to commit such a horrendous act of cruelty to a living creature.

Remember veal crates are containers into which is placed a newborn calf that was taken from his mother one hour after being born. This is all this poor animal will see for his or her short and tragic life. For here in this tight confinement the calf will remain until he is slaughtered to provide veal – usually for the more affluent members of our society.

Think before you eat. All meat is inhumane, death is inhumane. To take the life of a sentient being who like you or I wishes to live  – the instinct for survival is of course one of the most powerful instincts found in both human and non human animals. – is a crime, nothing less. The sickening cruelty of veal crates and plastic hutches is shocking in the extreme, it is undertaken to make money and cannot be justified in any way even by many of those who continue with an omnivorous diet.

Veal and beef of course are not the only issue with cattle farming – remember veal of course is a by product of dairying.

Consider the following with regards to the consumption of dairy products

My perspective of veganism was most affected by learning that the veal calf is a by-product of dairying, and that in essence there is a slice of veal in every glass of what I had thought was an innocuous white liquid – milk.
Rynn Berry, quoted in Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, 1998

Did you know that our love of milk here in the UK sees an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 male dairy calves shot within hours of birth.

Watch this heart breaking film:

The price of milk, cheese (dairy) and veal – separation of a cow and her calf>

This French video clip (an excerpt form a new documentary by French filmmaker Beatrice Limare called “Adieu, veau, vache, cochon, couvée“) depicts that breaking of the bond between a dairy cow and her newborn calf. There is no physical violence, blood or gore here. Just something perhaps far worse: the psychological anguish of the deepest bond imaginable in the mammalian world: the bond of a mother and child.

Read more:
Also read the “about” segment included with the video:

A Calf and a Half’ — Cadbury Milk Investigation — Reality Behind the Ads


Finally watch this heartbreaking video From Animals Australia

Hidden camera dairy calf investigation

Is your glass of milk really worth all this sickening cruelty. Look at the faces of these babies how can anyone who wishes to be called human cause them to suffer in this way for a food we do not need. Think about it no other animal drinks milk after weaning and no other animal drinks the milk of another species.

If you are not ashamed to be human than you should be.I often wonder if there are any other living sentient beings in the universe who have evolved to be compassionate and what they would think of our treatment of the other species with whom we share this world.

For almost all of our fellow animals and indeed for many humans this world is truly hell on earth

I hope in time in the not too distant future that we no longer rear animals for food or any other commodity and that we allow them to live in accordance with their nature, free to live as they so please.

Take Action

Stop drinking milk or consuming milk products. Stop eating meat, discontinue the use of animal products such as leather and wool. Go vegetarian,  ideally go vegan

“Animals do not ‘give’ their life to us, as the sugar-coated lie would have it. No, we take their lives. They struggle and fight to the last breath, just as we would do if we were in their place.”
John Robbins