USDA Promises to Stop Allowing Slaughter of Debilitated Veal Calves

Monday, March 25, 2013 - 4:45pm
USDA Promises to Stop Allowing Slaughter of Debilitated Veal Calves

It’s about time. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced its intention to ban the slaughter of veal calves who are too sick, injured or weak to stand.

Many experts believe “downer” adult cattle are at higher risk of having Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease. For that reason, the USDA has already banned the slaughter of adult downer cattle, requiring that they be promptly and humanely euthanized. However, downer calves may be kept alive indefinitely in slaughter facility pens, leaving them vulnerable to cruel mistreatment.

“This decision should close a loophole that has allowed sick calves to be roughly handled, neglected and left to suffer,” says Suzanne McMillan, ASPCA Director of Farm Animal Welfare.“We hope the agency will enact these changes quickly to protect calves and consumers.”

Nearly 700,000 veal calves are slaughtered annually in the U.S.—many are under three weeks of age.

While the USDA has committed to changing its policy on downer calf slaughter, the agency still needs to issue a new rule to formalize the change and put it into effect.

Take Action!
Please tell the USDA to prioritize protecting calves from cruelty. Email U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator Almanza today and urge them to change regulations on downer calves immediately.

• FSIS Administrator Alfred V. Almanza:  [email protected]
• Secretary Tom Vilsack: [email protected]

To learn more about downer animals and the veal industry, please visit our Factory Farming Section.

Add new comment




My heart was broken that day, that day I found out one of my best friends had only 10 more days to live. He had such a short life. And yes, I was distraught, because I would miss him immensely, but I mostly felt sorry for him. He had such a hard life.
I remember the day he was born. He fell onto the hard floor as soon as his mother gave birth to him. He was nearly dumped into his “cradle,” if you could even call that pile of wood and nails a “cradle.” He stumbled to make himself comfortable, as he obviously could not balance himself at only a few hours old. Ultimately, he fell outside the window of his room, his newborn head hitting a rock. His caretakers could care less if he remained lying in the rain, so I struggled alone to place him back in his bed, and after a half hour, he finally fell asleep.
From that day forward, he trembled in the presence of others, except for me. From that day forward, he jumped ecstatically every timed I passed him. From that day forward, Betsie and I became best friends.
As the days passed, and his love for me only grew exponentially, he began to trust others. Finally, Betsie forgave the caretakers for dragging him on the cold concrete and chaining him to his bed so he could not escape. Unfortunately, soon after the development of his trust and forgiveness towards others, they informed me he only had 10 days left to live.
Do you feel upset for Betsie? Now would you feel any less upset for 2-day-old Betsie if I told you he was a calf?
I bet you’re wondering why he only lived a life consisting of 12 short days. The next time you eat a burger, you tell me why. The next time you eat beef, you might be eating Betsie, who was probably more forgiving and happier than most people in your life.
Are you still going to contribute to a business, specifically the veal industry, that just trades Betsie, his family, and his friends? If you are, will you be content with being responsible for treating Betsie, a sentient creature, as a commodity?

Lauren campbell

All babies deserved life, even these poor babies . We are a greedy country who treats animals with such cruelty . No animal should endured this pain .

Lisa Koppelman

Listen to your hearts


it's disgusting yes. it also makes me cry
those sweet baby animals. their mother's crying out for them
god help us
may their beautiful pure spirits be with him

jeimy galiano

Veal has to end period!!! if media would just show people what goes behind more and more people would take action and become vegans/ vegetarians.


We need to protect our animals from the sick and twisted evil people who hurt them. If we are going to slaughter them then we need to keep them from being tortured. ALL ANIMALS have the right to be protected.

jeimy galiano

Veal has to end period!!! if media would just show people what goes behind more and more people would take action and become vegans/ vegetarians.

Richa Garg

Please STOP ANIMAL CRUELTY. How can we as humans do something to poor helpless yet so loving animals that we cannot even IMAGINE in our wildest nightmares? Please people think before you act cruel to animals. It breaks my heart. Plz plz plz don't hurt animals.


omg i love cows there my favorite

Morgan Griffith

Some of the worst abuse of animals have come with USDA inspectors "on the job" yet unwilling and/or unable to see the cruelty. With the spate of Ag Gag laws who will be there to assure that downer cows and calves don't end up in the food supply chain. The meat industry is the best advertisement for a vegan diet. If you can't trust the product you certainly don't want to eat it.