Grain-fed veal factsheets

Deciding to raise calves for the grain-fed veal market requires thorough and thoughtful planning. This series of factsheets will help answer common questions and guide you in the right direction.

Becoming a grain-fed veal farmer in Ontario

Find the answers to common questions about purchasing and marketing veal cattle, and learn more about starting a grain-fed veal farm in Ontario in this factsheet.

Feeding for finish

Grain-fed veal cattle are fed a balanced ration based of grain (usually clean, whole-shelled corn) and pellets made of protein, vitamins, and minerals. A small amount of roughage should be offered daily to maintain rumen health. Cattle should also have continuous access to their feed, to encourage slower eating and stimulate chewing. Ensure there is adequate bunk space for each animal. Learn more about feeding for finish in this factsheet.

Acidosis

Ruminal acidosis is a common metabolic disorder that has significant economic implications in the grain-fed veal industry. Feeding excessive amounts of rapidly fermentable carbohydrates to ruminants, in conjunction with inadequate fibre, can cause acidosis. If left untreated, acidosis could lead to rumenitis, laminitis, liver abscesses, reduced feed intake, sudden death syndrome, off-feed syndrome, and clostridial infections (Vermeire, 2012). All these conditions are affecting your bottom line; you cannot afford to overlook acidosis in your operation. Learn more about acidosis in this factsheet.

Pellet quality

There are important management practices to remember when handling protein supplement (or concentrate, the two terms are interchangeable) pellets. Pellets are processed to have a hard surface, so they do not break down and create fines. Fines could include important minerals that the animals need and can cause acidosis. Even with a hardener added to the pellet, the ends are soft and fragile; excessive handling (auguring, mixing, and distribution) and surrounding moisture can contribute to pellet damage. Learn more about pellet quality in this factsheet.

Starter

When calves are first introduced to solid feed it is referred to as “starter”. The form of the starter is personal preference, some have molasses added which calves love, but attracts a lot of flies. It can also clump in the summer with hot, humid weather, and freeze in the winter. Pellets are easier to feed but can be a challenge for young calves to get used to eating. The pellets can also crumble, making them unpalatable to the calf, so it is even more important to offer fresh calf starter daily. Learn more about starter in this factsheet.

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