Calves younger than two weeks transported between states in the US

Animal News : Calves younger than two weeks transported between states in the US

Calves no older than two weeks, ripped from their mothers, were transported to calf-rearing facilities across the United States. Some animals were put on trucks for 19 hours.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has launched a petition urging the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish new regulations on the transportation of young calves.

This action follows an AWI investigation revealing the stressful conditions endured by dairy calves during long-distance transports.

In 2022, half a million dairy calves were transported from dairy farms in seven northern US states to calf-rearing facilities in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.

AWI tracked a truck with calves from Minnesota to New Mexico. Findings revealed that most calves were under two weeks old and endured a grueling 19-hour journey.

Adrienne Craig, an attorney with AWI, emphasized the severe stress placed on these young animals, whose navels were unhealed. “Having an unhealed navel indicates a very young age,” Craig told Wyoming Public Media.

International animal welfare standards currently prohibit the transport of calves less than two weeks old over long distances. However, these standards are not uniformly enforced across US states, leading to AWI’s petition to the USDA.

The petition seeks the USDA to establish clear transport standards to protect these young animals during interstate travels.

Calf-rearing facilities

Calf-rearing facilities, also known as calf ranches or calf nurseries, are specialized operations where young calves are raised until they reach a certain age or weight suitable for integration into dairy or beef production systems. 

In dairy operations, calves are often separated from their mothers shortly after birth to manage the cows’ milk production for human consumption rather than calf feeding. The young calves are then moved to calf-rearing facilities.

Instead of their mother’s milk, calves at these facilities are usually fed milk replacer.

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