What Happens To Male Calves?

More calves are born on a dairy farm than are needed for milk production. These mostly male calves have a few different pathways.

Last updated 17/01/2024

Calves that are not needed for milk production or those that aren't reared for veal or beef are known as bobby calves. These mostly male calves are sent to a saleyard or abattoir at five days or older.

Many of these calves are used for veal for food products or hides for leather goods.

A growing number of farmers are able to rear male calves, either themselves or with professional rearers, to become beef animals.

Unfortunately, not all male calves can be reared for beef due to lack of market opportunity. In instances where other pathways are not viable, calves are euthanised at birth.

Some farmers are also using sexed semen technology to help increase the number of female calves born that can be reared and reduce the number of male calves.

Strict animal welfare requirements apply to all calves born on farm, whether they are destined for the milking heard, reared elsewhere for beef, or marketed as bobby calves.

The dairy and red meat industries are investing in research to find sustainable alternative pathways for bobby calves.

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