Physical alteration practices
Many physical alterations that are common to cattle production animals are not in use in Finland or Sweden. The only procedure which is allowed is the disbudding of calves in dairy cattle and at calf rearing farms. Bull calves are normally not castrated and tail docking is forbidden.
If young bulls are castrated, the operation is only allowed to be performed by a legalised veterinarian under proper anaesthesia. Castration might be done to bulls that are used as “teaserbulls” or which are kept on pasture with female animals. Tail docking is not necessary and it has never been used as a preventive measure in Finland or in Sweden. If needed e.g. in case of an injury or inflammation, the tail can be docked by a veterinarian, under anaesthesia and pain relief.
According to the Finnish legislation, disbudding of calves or dehorning is still allowed for calves under 4 weeks if performed by a competent person. Disbudding of calves is common because horns are a safety risk for animals and humans. It is known that the operation is painful to the calves and, therefore, HKScan recommends that it should only be done by a veterinarian and only with the use of sedatives, local anaesthesia and painkillers. This is a mandatory requirement for HKScan’s Quality Farms and calf rearing units. According to the Swedish legislation, the operation has to be performed by a veterinarian with the use of sedatives, local anaesthesia and painkillers.
Antibiotics and hormones
Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and hormones are only used for veterinary reasons. The use of antibiotics on farms is strictly supervised by legalized veterinarians and no antimicrobial treatments are used to promote the growth of cattle.
Use of prophylactic antimicrobials is forbidden at HKScan’s fattening bull and calf rearing contract farms. Use of fluorocinolones and the use of third and fourth generation antibiotics is not allowed on Quality Farms and calf rearing units. The extended spectrum or long acting macrolides can only be used based on microbiological diagnosis or bacterial sensitivity testing, but never as the first line of treatment. The producers of HKScan are committed to following the guidelines of HKScan and national food safety authorities.
Legislation in Finland and Sweden does not allow the use of hormones for the purpose of growth stimulation. Hormones are used by veterinarian’s prescription for cows, mostly for dairy cows e.g. as a treatment for fertility problems. Hormones are very seldom used for beef cows, and, if occasionally used, the purpose is to stimulate milk ejection or to treat a uterine inflammation.
Read more about antibiotics and HKScan’s practices from the Corporate Responsibility Fact sheet.
Animal welfare non-conformity
There have not been any illegal offences resulting in a fine or penalty within our own beef cattle production operations in 2017. We strictly follow our methods and practices and, in case of any deviations, take corrective actions immediately.