New USDA Rule, Supported by ASPCA, Protects Vulnerable Calves

July 15, 2016

USDA rule protects vulnerable calves

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized a rule banning the slaughter (for veal) of calves who are too sick, injured or weak to stand. This decision corrects a loophole that allows sick calves to be handled roughly, neglected and left to suffer. The ASPCA filed comments urging these critical changes—along with messages of support from many of you—with the USDA in 2015.

Known as “downer calves,” these animals may become non-ambulatory for any number of reasons, including illness, injury or transport stress. It’s already illegal to slaughter adult cattle who are in such obviously poor condition, but the loophole in federal law permits a “wait-and-see” approach for disabled young calves: They can be set aside and given the chance to “recover.” Investigations have shown that this policy can lead to animal abuse as workers use inhumane techniques to force distressed baby cows, most of whom are no more than a few months old, to stand up and walk.

Now, instead of enduring further suffering, downer calves will, like adult cows in physical distress, be immediately and humanely euthanized. We commend the USDA for finalizing a rule that will reduce the suffering of these vulnerable animals. The rule goes into effect in 60 days.

Thank you for helping to make these protections a reality! To be notified of future opportunities to improve laws, regulations and policies for animals in your state and across the country, be sure to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade!