I start with thanking Justine for a very constructive 2nd comment that didn't feel like an attack. We are trying as two individuals to come to the meeting of two minds. That is a good thing.
This is Justine's second comment to me:
'Well Kim, if I had a blog, you would be most welcome to post on it. You are also welcome to come with me on a tour of a factory farm followed by a tour of a farm animal sanctuary. I think you will see the difference. Yes roosters fight naturally to establish a pecking order. When there's room to move around, it's easier for them to create a natural hierarchy to follow and for the non-dominant males to stay safely away from the dominant ones.
When you say liberalism, why don't you say what you really mean? Extremism. You think people who care about animal rights are extremists. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you are also an extremist. You don't believe that animals should have the slightest bit of comfort before they die.
I'm not asking you today to give up beef or to close your farm. That is too much to ask and I don't want to take away your livelihood. I'm asking that you consider that there is both a humane and sustainable way to farm. Even if you don't believe that animals have a right to live and not be eaten, I hope that you will realize that animals do not need to suffer prior to their death. They don't need to be forced into small cages, they don't need to have their beaks docked, they don't need to live their lives in pain and fear. There's a middle ground.
Justine it is with pleasure I hope with this post you understand more about my family and most importantly me. Our family believes in sustainable ranching. We chose the Lowline Angus specifically because they can sustain themselves on grass. Crossing with very highly efficient Santa Gertrudis gives us the ability to educate local cattle producers an alternative to having to feed a large amount of harvest products to sustain the cattle through the winter months. With price of fuel and grain going through the roof last year, feed and fuel is no longer cheap. The American Consumer of Beef loves grain fed beef. There is a segment of the population who is discovering organic or natural grain fed beef and organic or natural grass-fed beef. The two taste very different. The Lowline Angus is perfect for all types of operations in the beef industry. For years with cheap feed, fertilizer, and fuel we were told bigger is better with cattle. Research out of Dickinson Research Center of North Dakota State University has found cows in the 1000-1200 lb range are much more efficient producers of the grass they eat and as a percentage of their body weight can wean a calf that weighs half of what they do. This allows producers to stock more cattle and raise more pounds of beef per acre. Their nutrition requirements are less then a cow weighing 1600-1800 lbs. If I can stock three cows in the smaller range for every two of the larger cows and still have adequate grass then I'm selling more pounds of beef. I'll have three calves weighing 1500 lbs vs two calves weighing 1200lbs. My income rises. The other upside to this is allowing more land to be used to raise crops. I really consider myself a grass farmer growing native grasses having far more nutrients then improved grasses. I utilize the sun and rain to produce a crop of grass. I market the grass in the form of cattle. I also am very aware of improving my wildlife population. If I improved the habitat for my wildlife I provide a better habitat for my cattle.
Our family finds inhumane treatment of any animal as wrong. I have been to and worked on what you call a factory farm as well as spent time at horse sanctuaries. I've always had a deep abiding love for animals especially horses. I've been around horses for 41 years, owned them for 39 years. They are a part of my sole. I'm lost without a horse. I do find animal rights activists as extremist. I'm not, I dislike organizations like PETA and HSUS that loves to use shock value to force their extremist concepts on people. I often think of my Puritan ancestors who spoke of tolerance in their beliefs, but in reality were no more tolerant then anyone else of the time period. Because of their desire for tolerance for their beliefs, I fully believe we should all be tolerant of others beliefs. I had a close friend from Virginia who came down and showed me a picture of PETA members arriving at a Hunter/Jumper show throwing tomatoes at the participants in the ring riding their horses. She was the Show Secretary for the show. That was inhumane to the horses never mind endangering the riders. There was no tolerance that day for anyone at the show. 95,000 animals under PETA's care last year were euthanized last year. I'm sure they would say they were all terminal. I had my vet tell me one time a Greyhound I found on the side of a county road wasn't going to make it. She was seven years old and lived to 13 years old. HSUS is currently calling for broiler chickens to die from carbon monoxide gassing but actively lobbies against dogs and cats to go through the same thing. I find this concept bigoted. I voice my opinion, there is a place in our country for all beliefs on a range of subjects. I respect your desire to be a vegan and I think it is wonderful you are. Your comment to me shows me you respect me for having cattle and I think, too, for enjoying meat in my diet. Our garden is grown organically. We try very hard to only eat a whole food diet. I bake all of our bread to avoid the preservatives. I admit we slide on occasion, mostly my husband and son. Like you when possible I buy local or directly from a farmer. We really aren't that far apart.
In relation from this post to the last you were much more kind and I appreciate it. It's ok if what I write makes you think I'm an extremist. I know I'm not. I'm much more a realist. The real facts are so very apparent about food and the production of food. We are a rich nation in both culture and technology. We are the richest nation in the world because our country has the very best environment and soils to produce a huge amount of food. The world is still growing with a projected growth of 80 million people from 7/08 to 7/09. There is an approximately 6.7 billion people in the world. They all need to eat. 30 years ago as I started my college education we could feed our nation and the world. There were half the people. We have lost 100 million acres of farm & ranch land to urban development. Not feeding the world could have all kinds of consequences. Look at Africa to realize what happens when a country can't feed it's citizens. That bothers me greatly! It bothered me to hear of individuals in the richest nation (not in $ value) were selling family heirlooms to eat, pay their house note, and keep the electricity on in the last year. People had to make the choice between eating and paying the house note.
I call it liberalism because of the individuals in PETA and HSUS get the liberal politicians to listen to their shock value ideology. If the conservative side listened they'd vote conservative. The politicians are only interested in getting re-elected.
I agree there is a middle ground, but when someone posts 15 lbs of grain to produce a pound of gain in cattle, they are nuts. I invite that person to please read the following information available by South Dakota State Univ. Research has been done in all of the areas discussed in this article. There is even the reason behind why those who say cattle eat 16lbs of grain per lb of gain to get to slaughter weight. It's just easier to read it then me get on my soap box.
Beef by Richard Goodrich & W. Ray Stricklin
You really need to believe that all livestock producers want what is best for their animals. They feel that way because a healthy happy animal grows or produces well.
I'll give you an example of just such a thing happening to us as a family. Our daughter Lynn asked to raise and then show a market hog her sophomore year in FFA. We purchased a show pig for $200.00 and at the particular time I borrowed the money because we didn't have it. We purchased the pig at the last possible moment and the chances were very great the pig wouldn't make it to minimum weight to be shown. We were told to buy a "non show pig" so she would eat better. We couldn't afford to feed two. We didn't buy the other pig. Their stomachs are like ours and you can't push them hard. When Lynn's pig arrived at the county fair the gentleman that help Lynn's Ag teacher pick up the pig and deliver her to us was amazed this pig not only made weight but would be in the Heavy Weight Class. On top of that she never had to be held so she wouldn't go over weight. Lynn wasn't around and her Ag Teacher asked how she did it. I smiled, 'Traylor you won't believe it when I tell you, it's as simple as "Happy Pig." Lynn's best friend for five months was her pig. They raced around the barn together with her pig always winning by two laps, rolled in the mud, had a bath, worked together practicing for walking in the show ring every evening it wasn't raining. In fact where we lived at the time the neighbors around us would sit out on their porches to laugh and enjoy the interaction Lynn and her pig had. Her gilt would grunt the funniest noise every time she would lap Lynn. And the racing was the pig's idea not Lynn's.
I actually think if you start researching "factory farm" practices you'll find we aren't cruel to animals, including laying hens.
Then here is another food for thought. We lost $12,000 dollars from the loss of three calves to coyotes on our ranch in August and early September last year. What would you have done? The number one stress on our ranch for the cattle is coyotes and not the humans. We need the coyotes to control the rabbit, mice, rat and feral cat and hog populations. It's about balancing our wildlife.