In a somewhat surprising development yesterday, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board reversed its earlier position on draft standards for veal housing and voted to continue to allow calves under 10 weeks of age to be tethered in stalls after Dec. 31, 2017. The previously adopted standard, which was reversed, only allowed tethering of calves under 10 weeks of age after 2017 if the tether was of sufficient length to allow the calf to turn around.
AVMA policy on veal calf management stipulates that individual housing for calves in the first 10 weeks of life has advantages relative to disease control, sanitation and individual observation, but the policy does state that “individual housing must allow the calf to turn around comfortably and to assume normal postures.”
The change in policy does seem to be contrary to the agreement reached among agricultural groups, HSUS and former Gov. Ted Strickland last year. It is unclear at this point, however, if the Livestock Care Board action will trigger renewed activity on a possible ballot initiative on livestock housing.
The motion to change the Board’s recommendations on veal housing was made by Board member Jeff Wuebker and passed by a 6 to 5 vote after two-plus hours of both Board debate and public comment. Two veterinarians on the Board, Drs. Leon Weaver and Tony Forshey, joined Director Zehringer in voting against the change. Dr. Jerry Lahmers voted in favor of the amendment to remove the provision allowing the calf under 10 weeks to turn around.
A letter sent to the Livestock Board in advance of the meeting by the Ohio Farm Bureau encouraged the Board to change its draft policy to allow veal calves to be “housed in individual pens that limit movement of the calf with or without tethers, up to 10 weeks of age.”
The policy as approved yesterday by the Board still must complete additional steps in the formal rulemaking process. That action is not likely to occur until April.