Veal crates are used in factory farming to confine dairy calves. The calves are chained and do not have enough room to move or turn around.
Veal is a by-product of the dairy industry. Female cows must be kept constantly pregnant in order to maximize their milk production. Male calves are taken from their mothers at birth because they are not useful for milk production. Some female calves are also turned into veal because they are not needed for dairy production. The excess dairy calves are the wrong breed to be useful for beef production, so they are usually slaughtered for veal when they are between 8 and 16 weeks old.
Veal crates are controversial because many people regard the extreme confinement as excessively cruel. Also, the calves are fed a synthetic formula instead of their mothers’ milk, so that their flesh will be pale and anemic, as desired by many consumers.
While some animal advocates work to ban the use of veal crates, the slaughter of any animal for food is antithetical to animal rights, regardless of how much room the animals have when they are alive.