Friday, January 14, 2011


In my last post I commented on the topic of livestock owners being kind and compassionate to their animals. I received some feedback arguing the point that killing animals is actually cruel and in-humane.
I personally separate the raising and death aspects of agriculture into two different areas, but have realized not everyone does.
So, I'm back today to cover the death/killing part. Yes, it happens. Cattle, sheep and other livestock species are raised to be harvested for food. Any meat you eat did come from an animal. They don't "make" meat at the grocery store.
I believe we as humans are charged with caring for animals, and that we also have dominion over them. This is stated in the bible, starting in Genesis, Chapter One, continued in Leviticus, and repeated again in other chapters and versus.
For example:
Leviticus 11:1-3
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: 3 You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud
From the New International Version.
That's where my perspective is based. That's why I believe it's okay to raise animals and harvest them for meat. That's why I don't believe in vegetarianism, or veganism, or any other -ism that doesn't believe in meat consumption.
As for the actual part in the process where animals are killed. A vast amount of time, energy and resources have been invested to to ensure the practices used cause the least amount of stress and pain possible for the animal. You may have heard of Temple Grandin, who is one of the most well-known people involved in improving harvesting methods. This is something we're constantly working on and improving. We don't want them to suffer any more than is absolutely necessary.
But, the ultimately, in order to get meat, death occurs.
What would happen if it didn't? What if we let all animals live to a ripe old age, and die of natural causes? This seems to be the most common alternative presented to how animals are managed today.
First, there isn't enough land, grass, hay or grain to feed animals if that situation was allowed to perpetuate. They would starve to death. Even if every person in America tore down their house and moved into high rise apartments and reduced their land footprint significantly, there wouldn't be enough to feed the animals. Personally, I believe that starving to death is a much more gruesome, and in-humane way to die than a quick, almost painless death.
Second, as a species becomes overpopulated, the instance of disease becomes much more prevalent, as do disease carrying bugs, parasites, viruses and bacterias. Again, while the idea of letting everything just live without any management sounds "nice," the reality is that all livestock species would become much more susceptible to disease. This is another thing that doesn't sound very appealing to me when it comes to a way to die. Some diseases can take years to die from, and have serious and painful side effects. Some of these diseases could also be spread to humans much easier, and faster, without the management methods farmers and ranchers keep in place.
If this sounds a little far fetched, consider the parts of the world that overpopulated with humans. Think about the people that starve without food, and the diseases we've haven't in seen America for decades that are still serious threats.
Third, while the idea of not eating meat, or using any animal by-products may also sound "nice," to some, there is more to it than that. There isn't enough plant-based material in the world to feed the human race for one thing.
Some present the argument that people could eat the plants that animals do. That's incorrect, as most of the plant-based materials animals eat, and convert to meat, are indigestible to humans. We lack the ability that animals with a ruminant stomach do at converting them to energy. A cow can eat grass that you or I couldn't get any nutritional value out of, and she can convert it to pounds of meat, which we can eat, and meet our nutritional needs with.
The other side of that statement is that if we are eating all the plant-based materials, what are all the animals we are no longer raising for meat eating?
Fourth is the cost of almost everything you use daily. Did you know animal by-products are in everything from tires to glue to toothpaste to makeup? Adding animal by-products to some plastics help them bio-degrade faster. If animal by-products weren't used, these and countless other everyday items could go up in price, some significantly.
98 percent of an animal is used, and of that percentage between 55 and 60 percent is usually meat. So half of each harvested animal goes into products that aren't meat.
I don't like the thought of animals dying, but I realize it is a necessary part of life. Myself, and other ranchers do everything in our power to keep our animals happy and healthy during their lives, and we also do everything possible to make their death as quick and painless as possible. The alternative to modern agriculture practices are much more painful, harmful and hurtful to all livestock species in the long run than those we currently use to provide our consumers with the safest and most nutritious meat product in the world.

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