Waitrose has developed a cross-sector initiative that it hopes will revamp the home-reared veal and beef market.

Under the Calfline project, every surplus bull calf produced on Waitrose's dairy farms will be reared for the beef and veal markets rather than being sent for slaughter or export shortly after birth.

If successful, Waitrose plans to extend the scheme across all 65 dairy farms that supply its food shops. This would lead to an extra 12,000 animals entering the food chain each year, producing about 3,500 tonnes of beef.

Waitrose said it thought the initiative would be well-received from an ethical and welfare perspective, with every animal reared having a useful purpose in the supply chain. The scheme would benefit the beef and milk industries, it added.

The scheme is an extension of a project in which Aberdeen Angus bulls have been placed on dairy farms and the male calves purchased by Waitrose processor Dovecote Park for beef.