The owner of the Wicklow Calf Company, Seamus Scallan, has said his business looks after the health and welfare of calves and condemned anyone who interferes with calves.

Responding to the RTÉ Investigates programme, which aired last week and in which Scallan was interviewed, he said that he would like to “set the record straight”.

Scallan detailed the set-up of drinkers for the calves on his trucks.

“Before the calves leave our premises, we are monitored by the Department of Agriculture for the cleanliness of the lorry, the drinkers on the lorry for the electrolytes [and that] the fans are working on the lorry,” he said.

All the lorries have GPS, which contains information of the temperature control units, and the data “has to go back to the Department of Agriculture when the lorries are finished up doing their stretch on the continent”, he said on a post on TikTok.

“The calves can drink on the lorry 24 hours a day out of the drinkers. We have teats in each compartment that the calves can drink out of. All calves are fed electrolytes with fats and protein in them, they’re not just drinking cold water.”

Scallan added that the Department of Agriculture weighs the calves, then it quantifies the square metres of the lorry to get the average weight of how many calves can go on each truck.

The calves can drink on the lorry 24 hours a day out of the drinkers

“Nine times out of 10 there’s less calves on it than what is allowed by the EU, so the calves will travel.

“We have temperature control units on the truck that if the calves are getting too hot, we can turn the fans up. But the Department will not allow the calves to leave Ireland if the weather is too hot.

“The Department of Agriculture forecast the temperatures on a daily basis – whether our trucks can leave Ireland to go to different countries with the temperatures,” he said.

He added that “all journey logs, all the data from the GPS, the temperature control units; all that data must be returned to the Department within 30 days”.

“If the data is not returned, the haulier will be suspended for a length of time, because he’s in breach of the acts that is put in place by the EU,” he said.

Calf crates

When the calves arrive at the veal farms in Holland they go into a single crate for two to three weeks maximum, Scallan said.

While in those crates, they are trained how to drink from the drinkers, they are monitored for their health and then they are put into group batches of the same weight and same size, he said.

“They are allocated a space of 1.85m2 per calf for the six month duration that they are fed there.

“[They are in] temperature-controlled sheds, you could not ask for a better place to live,” he said.

Scallan also addressed the footage of calf abuse which occurred in New Zealand and aired during the programme.

“I’d like to point out, New Zealand is not part of the EU. New Zealand are in a different world. What they do in New Zealand, that’s not our business. It’s the way that Ireland conducts their welfare with the calves, the Department of Agriculture here, the way we conduct our business here, which is done under EU legislation.

“We will not send any calves out that are sick, the Department won’t allow us,” he said. He added that he wouldn’t send sick calves out in any case, as if they die the company has to pay for the calves and pay for their destruction.

He also said that the Department of Agriculture has offices “on site here to monitor all our business”.

Drone footage

Scallan also addresses drone footage of his company’s yard which aired on the programme.

“We didn’t know that the drones were around, but if you care to, look at our yard, at how clean it is and how clean our sheds are,” he said.

The footage showed calves being loaded onto trucks.

“There was nobody pushing the calves with sticks, we were pushing the calves up very gently, no shouting at the calves and the truck was loaded in 1,000% a correct manner.

We as a company 100% look after the health of our calves

“At the end of every week on Saturday afternoon we monitor our CCTV cameras for the whole week. One of our staff who manages the yard, he goes in and spends and an hour checking everything that happened during the week, so we can see if there’s any issues in our premises.

“We as a company 100% look after the health of our calves, the welfare of our calves, and we condemn anybody who interferes with the calves or pushes the calves or do anything wrong.

“We depend on the calves for our livelihood, so why would we show ill-treatment to our calves?” he said.

Rest stops

When asked earlier this week about the RTÉ Investigates footage of calves being transported from his premises in Wicklow to Spain, which did not appear to adhere to the required rest-stops, Scallan said that the journey was undertaken by a haulage company he hired in and so he could not answer.

However, he added that he believed that anyone who broke any law should be dismissed.

Read more

Wicklow Calf Company planning Rosslare lairage

ICMSA calls for €150/calf revamped Dairy Beef Scheme