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From day one, calf comfort and health is our priority. Our calves are fed a diet consisting of milk and forage which helps rumen development. We never allow tethering or physical alterations including tail docking, disbudding/dehorning of calves, castration, or branding. Throughout their life, calves can lay down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely.
Our humanely raised veal starts at the dairy farm. The calves spend their first few days in bedded pens, where they receive colostrum and are monitored for health and wellbeing before moving to the nursery barn. The calves will then spend about 7 weeks at a nursery barn where they receive milk and grain which provides fiber for rumen development. At around 7 weeks, the calves are moved to a finishing barn where they are raised in groups to promote socialization. The barns have artificial or natural lighting and are heated during cold months with year-round ventilation to provide clean, fresh air. They consume milk and cereal grains such as corn and chopped straw. Our veal is pinker than traditional milk-fed (a.k.a. special-fed veal or formula-fed veal) due to the additional nutrition they receive.
A: After World War II, when industrial principles were applied to farming and agriculture, “modern” methods dictated tethering calves in small, individual pens, or crates, and feeding them a “special” milk-formula diet. The system was thought to prevent the spread of illness and to efficiently and economically care for calves that were brought together from many dairy farms, making them highly susceptible to disease and stress.
Today, we know better, and we understand that raising animals in this inhumane way caused unnecessary stress as well as unnatural behaviors. English veal producers were the first to take notice, making it illegal to raise calves in crates after 1989. By 2008, tethered and crate raised veal was banned throughout the European Union.
Here in the U.S., the American Veal Association has voluntarily chosen to produce all special-fed veal calves in group-raised environments. But we believe that our calves and our consumers deserve better, today. That’s why in December 2008 Strauss became the first veal producer in the nation to raise 100% of our veal calves in a tether-free, group raised environment, a full nine years ahead of the industry deadline.
No. This is a misconception and a myth. In fact, freedom of movement promotes good health and reduces stress, which helps to ensure tenderness. Unfortunately, that fallacy has become so widely accepted that even chefs and people within the veal industry believe it.
Years ago, the popular myth was the whiter the veal, the more mild and tender it was. The color of veal is determined by the amount of iron the calf receives from its diet. With the introduction of formula-feeding, farmers had the ability to limit the calves iron intake resulting in lighter meat and created a new demand for white veal.
In addition to iron-deficient diets, veal farmers filtered iron from their calves’ water, prevented contact with any metal, and eliminated their natural forage diet, rich in iron and nutrients. It’s important to note that as iron levels decrease and the color of veal lightens, the calves become anemic, which causes their natural immune system to weaken. Calves that become sick more easily require increased medication and antibiotic use. For this reason, veal color has long been a point of concern and controversy. In fact, some EU retailers have already banned “white” veal from their shelves due to animal welfare concerns.
Strauss raises 100% of our formula-fed veal calves in a tether-free, grain-finished, group raised environment, providing a more nutrient-rich diet that produces healthier calves and pinker colored veal. As a veal consumer, you can help to improve the raising conditions of all veal calves by asking your butcher for pink or naturally colored veal.
Many people think of veal as deriving from baby calves. In fact, veal calves are typically 5 to 6 months old and weigh approximately 500 lbs when market ready. Ironically, veal is one of the older proteins most American’s will eat. Here’s a quick comparison with other proteins when market ready: chicken 5 to 9 weeks; turkey, 16 weeks; pork, 4 months; lamb, 6 to 12 months; beef, 18 months.
Our humanely raised veal starts at the dairy farm. The veal industry evolved by utilizing two primary by-products of the dairy industry – bull calves and whey. Dairy cows must calve every year to produce milk. Heifers (females) enter the milking herd and bulls (males) move into veal production. Because of this, our calves are primarily dairy breeds such as Holstein and Jersey. These breeds are not desirable for beef, therefore, raising them as veal supports the dairy industry, which provides us with milk, ice cream, and cheese.
Our veal calves come from many dairy farms, bringing with them various health concerns. Our veal calves are given medications as needed in order to maintain good calf health and comfort. By raising our calves with a nutritious diet that includes forage in a group housed setting, we’ve been able to dramatically improve calf health and further reduce the need for medication.
No. The USDA does not allow growth hormones or growth stimulants to be administered to veal calves. Strauss does not support the use of growth stimulants raising for livestock. We believe that nature’s pace is the best way.
Our calves are born and raised by family farmers throughout the upper Midwest, where dairy farms thrive.
For over 70 years, Strauss has partnered with the best family farmers in the Midwest. The long-standing relationships with these farmers ensure the consistency and quality our customers have come to trust. Strauss American lambs are born and humanely raised without the use of artificial growth hormones and animal by-products. Our lambs are USDA Choice grade and hand-selected to meet our standards for proper finish, weight, and age. Artisan butchers hand-process our fresh lambs daily to exacting specifications.
Our Australian family farmers and ranchers are highly progressive in pasture improvement and water management. The unique system of grazing vast, semi-arid and arid rangelands protects and improves the environment and creates some of the best lamb available. If a regional drought occurs, local feeding may, by necessity, be temporarily supplemented with grain, usually wheat and/or oats until the drought is alleviated.
Humane raising is traditional and customary in Australia. Lambs freely graze on open pastures, enjoying a variety of grasses as nature intended. They are never administered growth hormones or animal bi-products. Antibiotic use is strictly regulated and only allowed to treat illness which rarely occurs, never given preventatively or as a growth stimulant. Combining the integrity of our family farmers and ranchers with the advantages of an unspoiled environment, Australian Lamb is some of the highest quality lamb available anywhere.
New Zealand is an ideal place to produce pure, authentic, delicious lamb. Strauss New Zealand lamb is grazed on some of the world’s most fertile pastures and is 100% grass fed and grass-finished by family farmers and ranchers. The temperate, subtropical climate, ample rainfall, and emerald-green pastures produce lamb with classic flavor. A nature-intended stress-free environment creates exceptionally succulent, tender meat with exceptional tenderness. New Zealand lamb breeds are petite resulting in the smallest of Strauss Lamb cuts, a benefit for culinary creativity and versatility.
Humane raising has always been the cultural tradition in New Zealand. Lambs are never administered growth hormones or animal by-products. Antibiotic use is strictly regulated and only allowed to treat illness, never given preventatively or as a growth stimulant. Combining a pristine environment and humane handling results in exceptional meat.
Grass-fed and grass-finished is the same as saying 100% grass-fed (i.e., the cattle only eat grass and forage during their entire lifetime). While all cattle eat grass during their lifetime, not all cattle are grass-finished; many cattle are finished on grain. Our grass-fed cattle follow the USDA’s standard for grass-fed which you can read here:
Grass and forage shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. The diet shall be derived solely from forage consisting of grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse, or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state. Animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season. Hay, haylage, baleage, silage, crop residue without grain, and other roughage sources may also be included as acceptable feed sources.
We only partner with American family farmers and ranchers who are passionate about the grass they grow, the land they preserve, and the cattle they raise. They are exceptionally skilled at their craft, using all-natural, biological, soil-balancing methods. Our family farmers carefully tend to their cattle and their land, producing authentic heritage-bred, free range, 100% grass finished beef – never administered antibiotics or hormones, as nature intended. This produces sustainably raised, great-tasting, marbled beef. Good for the cattle, the earth, and you.
Our family farmers and ranchers are required to support sustainable practices while raising cattle, to ensure that not only the livestock but also the land itself thrives. This looks like utilizing regenerative agriculture practices such as pasture maintenance, limited use of herbicides/pesticides, and support of pollinator crops. These practices result in healthier soil which produces healthier pastures, resulting in healthier cattle. It’s a win-win-win.
Strauss values compassionate care towards our cattle, raising them in a healthy and low-stress environment suited to their needs. Our family farmers and ranchers are required to adhere to guidelines that provide care and limit stress to the animal, so that they experience ethical and humane treatment for the entirety of their lives. This positive treatment results in cattle living their best lives, happy and healthy, the way they are meant to be.
All harvesting of cattle must take place according to the American Meat Institute (AMI) Guidelines as developed by Dr. Temple Grandin. This is to ensure that the cattle are not caused any unnecessary distress or discomfort, and to ensure the humane harvest of the livestock. This conforms to Strauss’s commitment to the humane handling of all cattle for the entirety of their life.
No, Strauss Grass-Fed Beef cattle never receive antibiotics, for any reason. If an animal requires the use of antibiotics to be returned to full health, they will be administered as needed, and that animal will be removed from our beef program. This ensures the best health and care for our animals, as well as the assurance that Strauss Grass-Fed Beef will always be free from antibiotics.