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Dec 5, 2006 01:38 AM

Beef: Grain fed, Grass feed, ... Milk fed?

I asked today my supplier of raw meat for veal milanesa if his product comes from grain-fed or grass-fed cows.
He said "none of the above, it's 3 month old calves, only fed milk".
He explained that that's what makes the meat so tender and light colored.
Does it make sense?

(BTW, the milanesas come out fantastic, best I've ever had)

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  1. Makes sense to me. Veal is just a baby cow that is slaughtered at 4 months. This calf can either be confined its whole life in a warehouse eating only mother's milk (your veal) or artificial calf formula (this is where Provimi veal comes from).

    A calf can also be raised for its short life in the open, eating grass as well as mother's milk. This type of veal is red not white, suppose to be more humane, has more flavor, and is so much like beef that you might as well buy regular beef.

    1. Generally speaking, milk fed veal is so tender because the animals are fed only milk, and are kept in crates that do not allow too much movement (limited standing, no walking, generally just laying down and being fed). This feeding method prohibits full muscle development, leading to exceptionally tender meat. Further, generally, the calf is not fed "mother's milk" but more often a synthetic milk replacer with antibiotics so that the animals will not develop disease.

      If veal isn't milk-fed, it's more what a person thinks of as a calf. It's simply young stock (like jerry i h said above), under 4 months, that is raised with it's mother, and nurses naturally. Those animals may do some minimal grazing, but generally not, calves don't generally wean naturally until 4-6 months, or if being weaned by being removed from the cow, at about 3 months. This type of veal is not as tender as the milk-fed because the animal is walking, standing, laying, and using the muscle for simple daily activity. Although it is still quite tender, the use of muscle in walking strengthens the muscle, making it less tender.

      Milk fed veal (also called white veal) is possibly one of the most controversial foods out there. I'm not trying to fan flames of controversy, just pointing out the differences in the types of veal. I'm now ducking for cover....

      1. Should I then assume there's no such thing as organic milk-fed veal?

        2 Replies
        1. re: RicRios

          I think it does exist. I do not buy veal very often (can't afford it), but some of the gourmet meat places here in SF do sell organic meat, they also have veal, but I cannot say for certain that I specifically saw organic milk fed veal. Your regular supplier may not have it, since this an expensive, specialty item; you may have to search out a separate vendor that can supply you with organic meat.

          1. re: RicRios

            You're exactly right that there's no organic milk-fed veal. The USDA National Organic Program requires that animals be in living conditions where they can express their natural behaviors. All animals must have access to outdoors, sunlight, fresh air, exercise areas, shelter and shade. Also, ruminants are required to have access to pasture. So, milk-fed practices are not in line with organic requirements. Jerry, if you know of a source that claims they have organic white/milk fed veal, I'd be interested to know, because either they're flouting the federal law, or it's really not what they're claiming it is. Either way, it's unfair to the consumer and completely misleading in it's advertising, and if it's really white/milk-fed and being called organic, it's flat-out illegal.

          2. Yes, milk-fed veal is what you are refering too.
            Otherwise it is merely a calf.