Animals in British Farming»Dairy Cows

Are male dairy calves killed if they are not profitable to raise?


Information sourced from AHDB and Red Tractor.

Last reviewed

18% of male dairy calves are killed on farm shortly after being born as they are unprofitable to the dairy industry.

The AHDB reported that between 2016 and 2018 an average of 60,000 calves per year were killed shortly after being born. Killing on site usually means being shot in the head, although statistics are not available for slaughter methods. The motivation for this is that in some cases it's cheaper to kill than to raise a calf. The shot calves are discarded.

The remaining 280,000 male dairy calves per year are raised for beef or veal. They are typically sent to slaughter between 6-12 months old.

95% of milk sold in the UK meets the Red Tractor standard. In Autumn 2021 they issued a new standard with the aim of ending calf euthenia by 2023. No firm date or month has been set as of the time of writing.

The remaining 5% of milk comes from non Red Tractor schemes. Since there is no legislation against euthanising calves they will still be able to perform the practice.