A bit of history
It was in the beginning of the 1980’s that grain-fed veal production began to flourish. Before this date, little value was attributed to male dairy calves produced by our numerous dairy cows in Quebec.
It all begins at the dairy farm…
It all begins at the dairy farm where the cow, in order to produce milk, must necessarily produce calves. After 9 months of gestation, she will give birth to a calf. The future of the calf will depend first and foremost on its sex. If it is a female (heifer), she will also become a dairy cow. If it is a male calf, he will be destined for meat production.
… and continues on the grain-fed veal farm
Male calves are bought by grain-fed veal producers, who provide them with the best possible conditions necessary for their comfort, good health and growth.
Feeding grain-fed calves
Upon their arrival at the grain-fed veal farm and for the next eight weeks, calves will stay in a nursery, either in group or individually. At first, they are all fed reconstituted milk and then solid food is introduced gradually. Calves are weaned when the ingestion of solid food is sufficient. After weaning, the young calves are raised in groups in pens until the age of about six and a half months. They are then fed primarily grain corn and protein supplements. They are sold on the meat market when they reach the live weight of approximately 290 kg. The feeding of grain-fed veal meat is how the meat acquires its dark pink colour, a sign of quality and taste. Grain-fed calves are raised without the addition of growth hormones.
Grain-fed veal production in Quebec
- 200 farms located in many regions of Quebec, but primarily in the Montérégie and Centre-du-Québec regions
- Annual production of 70,000 grain-fed calves
- Farmgate value of $53 million
- 145,000 veal calves produced by Quebec’s dairy farms available to producers
- A type of production that often attracts young families, thereby ensuring future generations for this agricultural sector
- The average family farm produces 700 grain-fed calves yearly
Did you know?
Grain-fed veal is an innovation by Quebec producers who have created a unique product by adding value to male dairy calves by feeding them corn, a food that is also found in abundance in Quebec.