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Debra Teachout, DVM, MVSc

Dr. Teachout is a practicing veterinarian who graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She also holds an advanced degree in veterinary clinical pathology from Western College of Veterinary Medicine and completed additional coursework in farmed animal welfare. Dr. Teachout states:

    Calves are seen straining and pulling against the collar and tether, and the whites of their eyes are often evident, suggesting strong emotional response. There is no evident respite from being tied to the stall. There is substantial indication of frustration as animals are seen leaping upward or pushing backward forcefully while being tightly restrained at the neck. This behavior would certainly cause pain and even more frustration when it is not met with any form of release or relief. The calves are obviously distressed by their situation.

    Many calves show manure stuck to their hindquarters and hind legs. They are not kept clean by farm workers nor are they able to keep themselves clean due to the severe restrictions of their movement. Flies and insects appear to be a problem secondary to the manure buildup as calves are swatting them with their tails and stomping their feet in an effort to rid themselves of the irritation.

    In this veal facility the calves are neither physically fit nor do they enjoy or display a sense of well-being. There is serious frustration and discomfort evident everywhere. Their environment should permit normal behavior, but instead it restricts, aggravates, and induces unending distress and suffering.

 
Geoff Ball, DVM

Dr. Ball is a licensed veterinarian with 19 years of experience working with animals. As part of Dr. Ball's training he has studied farmed animals and zoonotic disease. Dr. Ball's veterinary practice involves evaluating animals for pain and stress in various situations. Dr. Ball states:

    The use of veal crates provides a poor quality of life to the calves in them. As demonstrated in the video, the calves are chained in a way that they can only stand, lie down and eat. The space provided for them does not even allow them to turn around and there is no calf interaction. Common sense tells us that this is not an ideal situation, but science has shown that these conditions cause great stress to these normally social, herd animals.

    In my opinion chaining a normally social animal so that it cannot even turn around and to expect it to live its life that way is just cruel. From the videos, behaviors shown such as constantly pulling at the chains, pacing in place and kicking are all signs of discomfort and stress.

 
Jonathan Balcombe, PhD

Dr. Balcombe is an ethologist with Bachelors and Masters degrees in biology and a Doctorate in animal behavior received from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Balcombe is the author of four books on animal behavior, as well as more than 40 book chapters and peer-reviewed journal papers. Dr. Balcombe states:

    The animals in this video show large amounts of eye-white. The amount of white that can be seen around the eyes is a scientifically established cue to the emotional states of cattle. Studies have shown that eye-white is a reliable indicator of how the animal is feeling on a continuum from contentedness (no eye-white) to stress or frustration (maximum eye-white).

    To fully appreciate the welfare implications of the conditions shown here requires considering the broader scope of the animals’ predicament. Presumably, these calves do not leave their stalls and they never go outside. If so, then they are deprived of the sensory elements that natural outdoor surroundings would provide them, including smells, tastes, sounds, tree trunks and other objects to rub up against, and weather conditions like sunlight, rain, and breezes. They are deprived of the opportunity to run, explore, and play with others, and otherwise to have physical contact with others of their kind – all behaviors they are strongly motivated to perform. Naturally curious, they are deprived of almost any opportunity to explore, to learn, and to try new things.

    It is hard to imagine that these animals experience much, if any, joy in their existence. It takes almost no imagination to appreciate that they experience considerable amounts of discomfort, frustration, and boredom, and that they are afraid of humans.

 
Lee Schrader, DVM

Dr. Schrader is a practicing veterinarian in the Dayton, Ohio area who obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1980 from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Schrader has over 35 years of experience working with animals, particularly animals with serious, difficult to diagnose disorders.

    The major problem that I see is the confinement of the calves in very small crates. They are tethered to the front of the crates with short chains around their necks, severely limiting their freedom of movement. The calves cannot turn around, assume a normal resting posture, or groom any part of their bodies. The calves show signs of agitation – moving back and forth and pulling against the tethers. The calves are unable to interact with other calves, other than slight head contact.

    I believe that the crating and tethering of the veal calves in this video is causing unnecessary stress and pain to the calves, and is an unacceptable method of calf housing. Neither is it in compliance with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

 
Marc Bekoff, PhD

Dr. Bekoff is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an expert in animal behavior, cognitive ethology and behavioral ecology. He is regularly sought by major media and well-respected publications for his extensive knowledge of animal cognition.

    As an ethologist, this footage bothers me greatly. They're denied freedoms – freedom of movement, freedom to live a good life, freedom to choose when and what to eat and they don't like it. They are sentient beings and we wouldn't do this to dogs and we shouldn't do it to cows either.

    Frankly, the treatment of these calves is disgusting, horrific, and reprehensible. There's nothing more for me to say.

 

In addition to condemnation by experts of the conditions for calves raised at Buckeye Veal Farm, over the years numerous other respected organizations and governmental bodies have also spoken out against the cruel conditions endured by calves kept chained in veal stalls:

 
Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production

After a comprehensive two-year study, the independent Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health chaired by former Kansas Governor John Carlin and including former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, concluded that veal crates should be phased out:

    After reviewing the literature, visiting production facilities, and listening to producers themselves, the Commission believes that the most intensive confinement systems, such as restrictive veal crates, hog gestation pens, restrictive farrowing crates, and battery cages for poultry, all prevent the animal from a normal range of movement and constitute inhumane treatment.

 
European Commission, Scientific Veterinary Committee

A report on the welfare of calves raised for veal, published by the European Commission, Scientific Veterinary Committee, Animal Welfare Section, states:

    Calves given little space, low environmental complexity and no variety in their environment have little possibility for exploration and this may result in poor welfare as indicated especially by high levels of abnormal behaviour… It is likely that the inability to explore, and to escape from perceived danger contributes to the high level of oral stereotypies, self licking and hair ingestion which occurs in calves confined in individual pens.

 
Ted Friend, PhD

Testifying before the U.S. Congress regarding a bill that would have prohibited veal crate confinement, Texas A&M University animal scientist, Dr. Ted Friend, discussed a USDA-funded study on veal calf welfare:

    Our results show that calves have a very strong drive to move or exercise that is blocked by chronic close confinement. The studies also found that maintaining calves in close confinement causes adverse physiological effects that alter metabolism and reduce the ability of the calf's immune system to respond to disease. All of these are changes in the body that are indicative of chronic stress.

    The crated calves required approximately five times more medication than those in the less confining environments.

    We also found that all of the symptoms of chronic stress were eliminated after the calves were removed from the crates....

    To summarize, our studies found that maintaining calves in crates is physically detrimental to the calf, something that is common knowledge in the industry.

 
W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA

Dr. W. Ron DeHaven is the former executive vice president of the American Veterinary Medical Association – one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Dr. DeHaven obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Purdue University in 1975.

    We should have realized, years ago, that veal crates have to go; the practice is simply not defensible in the court of public opinion.