Preventing animal disease
Disease prevention is crucial for our calves. It contributes to the animals’ health and a reduced use of antibiotics. Throughout its chain, the VanDrie Group is committed to animal health and the prevention of animal disease.
Giving calves a good start on the dairy farms has a significant effect on their health later on at the veal farms. After all, we purchase calves that dairy farmers cannot use to supplement their dairy herd. Calves have no antibodies when born and have only a limited natural immunity, which increases slowly. The first milk produced by a cow after having calved, also known as beestings, is essential for young calves. Beestings contains many antibodies (immunoglobulins), iron and vitamin A. Also, proper hygiene, such as clean housing and drinking buckets, is key to preventing animal disease. Providing sufficient beestings and hygiene while the calves are at the dairy farm ensures that their immune systems develop properly. This plays a part in ensuring that the animals at the veal farm are healthy. We wish to further improve our cooperation with the dairy farming sector in order to achieve better results in our own chain.
We ensure proper transport conditions (link to issue responsible transport) and decent housing, care and feed for our calves. We supply our husbandries with healthy calves, paying particular attention to the health of the navel, joints and faeces. A good navel prevents abscesses from forming in the gut and inflammation of the joints. An inflammation diminishes a calf’s immunity and growth and increases the risk of diarrhoea. If calves contract diarrhoea, for instance, their intestinal tract could be damaged, leaving them vulnerable to other infections.
Our calves are free to walk around in groups, the stalls are ventilated and there is sufficient daylight. To assure the health of our calves, we provide them with a varied menu. In addition to calf milk, we provide the calves with fibrous concentrates. Until they reach the age of 15 weeks, they receive at least 200 grams per day and from 15 weeks, they receive at least 500 grams per day. At least 10% of this fibre-rich feed consists of long-fibre straw. Long fibre feed requires calves to chew and ruminate for a long time, which stimulates digestion in the rumen, contributes to the development of typical behaviour in the calves and helps prevent anaemia.
Our veal farmers work closely with specialised veterinarians. Together, they formulate farm health plans, with which they can monitor the results and actively guide the health status of the animals as well as the management of the veal farm.