Buying Calves

The quality and health of calves arriving at a veal barn is a major factor in their subsequent health, future need for treatment, growth performance and, ultimately, carcass quality.

When buying a bull calf:

  • The calf should be in good health, alert and clean. You do not want it to have a runny nose or cough, or breathe rapidly.
  • Look for signs of scours and dehydration. You want to minimize the risk of bringing disease into your barn, as one sick calf can spread disease to all your healthy calves.
  • Calves should have strong, straight legs, as they will perform much better without feet and leg problems.
  • The navel should be dry and not swollen, painful or infected. It is very important to look at and feel the navel at time of purchase. Diseases such as arthritis, polyarthritis and meningitis come from navel
  • The calf should have a smooth, clean hair coat. You want to avoid calves that are missing hair on some parts of their coat, as this could mean the calf has been sick or has had scours if the hair is missing from the rear.

When buying calves, always keep in mind that any calf you buy will be with you for a long time. If there is something you don’t like about a calf, don’t buy it even if the price is cheap as it could be bringing a whole slew of problems with it.

points to consider

Proper Injection Sites/Techniques for injecting/vaccinating calves

Calves must always be needled in the neck when giving an intramuscular injection, as the neck is the least expensive cut of veal. When needling in the hind you are damaging the most expensive cut of veal.

Never give more than 10cc of any medication at any one-injection site. If you have the option to give a medication subcutaneously, that should always be the route of choice as there will be less tissue damage. It is estimated that on average, more than $9.00 worth of trim per carcass marketed in Canada is removed because of injection site lesions. One injection in the hind could result in a fist size pocket of pus.

Choosing the correct needle size and length is very important for proper entry and safety to the animal. Needles should be changed every 10 to 15 injections unless they are bent or dull – then they need to be changed immediately. For a subcutaneous (SQ) injection, a 16 or 18-gauge needle, ½ or ¾” long is most appropriate.

For an intramuscular (IM) injection, an appropriate needle and length would be also 16 or 18 gauge, but 1 to 1 ½“ long. Fourteen gauge needles are not recommended because the injection would cause too much pain to the calf.

Vaccines and antibiotics are the most commonly used medications on veal farms. Most products have labels and package inserts, which describe the medication, the reasons for its use, its dosage, method of storage, and withdrawal time. A list of all medication approved for use in veal calves is included in the Veal Medication appendix of this manual. Some have withdrawal times as long as 60 days.

Proper Injection

Product Quality

Definition: Grain Fed Veal
Grain fed veal refers to calves reared on a feed program using milk-based feeds for the first six to eight weeks and then transitioned to a whole grain-corn and protein supplements diet for the remaining portion of the
production period.

Definition: Milk Fed Veal
Milk fed veal refers to calves reared on a milk-based diet throughout the production period.