Today we made an unannounced visit to Purmerend calf market. It remains unfortunate that the current milk industry is based on separating calves from their mothers immediately after birth in order to keep the price of milk as low as possible, and then at only 2 weeks of age sending many of them to a market which adds further stress to these young and fragile animals. But we must acknowledge that the market at least does take a lot of steps to care for the calves as best as possible while on location. There was plenty of fresh straw-bedding, handling while we were present was calm and when we arrived unannounced in the early morning, traders and farmers were busy giving sugared water to the calves to keep them hydrated.
The market is long- we were told the calves arrived already the evening before and are only sold and loaded at around 17:00 the next day. We were not able to remain to observe the loading today but were told that the calves are sent to farms throughout the Netherlands, some just over the border to Belgium. We will plan another visit in the near future to observe the loading and transport.
A few calves showed missing areas of fur, likely due to low zinc levels from having had diarrhea. We checked the teeth of many of the smaller calves to make sure they were not too young. We did not observe any that were clearly under the minimum legal age for transport. We would like to thank the market managers for welcoming us in.