The Dutch calf sector

The origin of veal production in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has long been a dairy country and suitable for dairy farming, with ideal meadows and an ideal climate. Many farmers therefore make a living from the production of milk. In order to facilitate the production of milk, you needs cow, yet a cow can only produce milk once it has given birth. Cows also have to have a calf every six months to be able to produce milk. For the first two weeks, calves stay with their mothers. After this, some of them remain with the farmer, so that he can expand or replace his dairy stock, while the majority go to veal farms.

This is where the calves go that the dairy farmer is unable to accommodate. The whey and the low-fat milk powder produced by the dairy farming process are manufactured into high-grade feed, known as “calf milk”. This is the feed used to feed the calves on veal farms.
Veal production thus originates from developments made by the dairy industry.

It is thanks in part to this long history and extensive experience, as well as the independently operating SKV control system, that the Netherlands is market leader and has the highest calf density in the world. One fifth of all veal dishes on European menus carry the SKV quality label.

The Netherlands has over 2,000 veal farms and around 1.5 million calves are farmed and processed each year. Around 95 % of this veal is exported.