Digging Deeper Than Face Value When Looking at Groups Attempting to Define Humane Bovine Care…

No one was more surprised than I was when it was announced that I had been voted “Prom Queen” my senior year in high school.  I was an athlete…I was a very serious student…I did not always fit in and I certainly was not a member of the popular crowd.  When I think of a “Prom Queen”, I think of a pretty and popular girl who is more likely to be a fashion savvy cheerleader than a swimmer who went directly from morning swimming practice to school every day without bothering to dry her hair…To this day, I still have not figured out how I managed to be voted “Prom Queen”, but the experience taught me NOT to take things at face value.

A "fish out of water"...I traded my swimming suit for a Prom dress and crown...May 1993.

The past three blog posts discussed and defined humane bovine care, and explained how I ensure that the care that I offer to my cattle is humane as defined at the level of a calf.  I take great pride in the care that I offer to my animals, and I feel well equipped in my journey of cattle care and beef production.

The orange ear tag in this animal's left ear certifies through the Veterinary Quality Assurance program that this animal has been cared for by a Beef Quality Assurance educated care giver its entire life as well as being able to be traced back to the ranch of origin and a birth date.

I have confidence in the Beef Quality Assurance program, and I have confidence in my ability to care for my animals and raise safe and healthy beef.  Knowing that this is the case, I really struggle to find validity in the quest of animal activist groups to define other humane or animal welfare standards as they pertain to cattle.

I honestly cannot see how groups who have no experience or understanding of cattle could accurately define humane standards for their care.

I did not truly understand what my cattle needed to be comfortable and healthy until I had learned to care for them and spent thousands of hours observing and interacting with them.

While I believe that a quest for humane bovine care is both admirable and necessary, I believe that it is a quest that should be led by dedicated cattle farmers like myself and be defined and audited using standards developed by those that have experience understanding and caring for cattle.

I have worked hard to earn the right, and the knowledge needed to help define "humane bovine care standards"...

I do NOT believe that the quest for humane bovine care should be led by politically based animal activist groups who have no practical experience caring for cattle.

I do NOT believe that the quest for humane bovine care should be led by groups whose primary goal is to end the use of animals for human food consumption.

I do NOT believe that the quest for humane bovine care should be led by groups who fail to do their homework, and call me and my hard working family farm a FACTORY.

I believe that it is my job as an animal welfarist to work hard for continued improvement in the quest for quality and humane bovine care.

I believe that it is your job as consumers of my beef to come to me when you have questions regarding cattle care practices, and also to do your homework before inadvertently lending support to activist groups in the name of “humane care”.

I traded my Prom Dress for blue jeans and boots, but I still put on my swimming suit each summer to compete on a local swim team with my girls!

It took this “studious jock” turned Prom Queen a long time to earn the right to help define humane bovine care—make sure that the groups that you turn to for information regarding humane bovine care have the necessary knowledge and “hands on” learning experience that is required to effectively and humanely care for a bovine…


Filed under Animal Welfare, Foodie Work!, General

8 responses to “Digging Deeper Than Face Value When Looking at Groups Attempting to Define Humane Bovine Care…

  1. Bill

    Those groups work on emotion and not logic. That is why you are having a hard time understanding them. To them, you’re ‘evil’ because you are apart of the process that breeds and slaughters animals for profit. If they have any, that is all the logic they need.

    Unfortunately, many other people listen with their hearts since it is far easier than trying to fully understand an issue with their brain. You are a part of a process that kills things, and I’m sure this issue is often debated and discussed by the Mid-Western Emotionalists while eating their Big Mac.

    I would love to see PETA members take ‘rescue’ bovines into their homes as pets. It would never happen, which means PETA is much more about their weird end game emotionalistic goal than animal welfare. Seriously. If they won, what would PETA do with tens of thousands of Nebraska ‘rescue’ bovines? Probably sell them for beef or turn them loose on the highways. Either way it is a losing PR strategy.

  2. Bill

    Both Kara and you were stunning young ladies once you looked past the hardcore jock part. It was far more shocking to see you dressed with dry hair than in a bathing suit. As jocks, you both were far more gross than attractive.

    I remember when Kara and you left practice early for some event that you both were attending. You both came out of the bath house during some short course season when the team had stopped on the far side of the pool.

    I remember thinking, “Wow… Who are those girls? Oh… it’s them.”

    …And nice ‘guns’ prom queen. Maybe the Cardinal Gibson in-crowd just flat out feared you?

    I’m sure their prom queen discussion about your selection started out like this:
    “What about Anne Gibson?”
    “Like… Oh my gosh. She can like put our heads through a locker! Let’s play it safe and vote for her.”

    I mean… I feared you, and you were just half my size.

  3. Thank you so much for all you do for the beef industry, Anne! I wish more people from all walks of life shared your level of passion and intellect for discovering and sharing factual information.

  4. SF Ferguson

    You’re right, Anne!

  5. Ashley

    As a 28 year old lifelong vegetarian (from birth), I find your blog absolutely fascinating (with what I’ve read so far – maybe 10-15 posts). I don’t intend to harass you, but I would like to give my point of view as “one of those people” who doesn’t believe in eating animals.

    For reference, I don’t impress my opinions on others (IE, I won’t comment on a friend eating meat when we go out for dinner together) and I allow meat to be cooked in my home. However, if asked about my beliefs, I’m happy to share my philosophy.

    I was raised (and now believe) that humans, at this point in time, are largely able to be completely free from meat as a food source. This hasn’t always been the case. In the past humans definitely did not have the resources to feed ourselves in a cruelty free way. However at this point in time we can supplement our diets with products that do not involve animal cruelty in order to eat in a safe and nutritionally balanced way. I don’t believe in eating or wearing animals, but I don’t have a problem with using animal products (such as milk, eggs, cheese) as long as they are obtained in a cruelty free manner.

    10 years ago I began suffering from anemia. My doctor tried putting me on iron supplements but my body has some weird deficiency and wasn’t absorbing it from the supplements. I became sicker and sicker, and he eventually told me that I had to eat meat with iron in it at least 3x a week to combat my iron deficiency, or I’d continue to become more ill and possibly die. I now eat chicken begrudgingly 3x a week, usually disguised as something else. Anything that looks like actual meat is completely inedible to me. However, my father has now been completely vegetarian for over 40 years, and he is one of the healthiest people I know. He is the reason our family was primarily vegetarian.

    I’ve felt greatly uncomfortable about eating meat since my illness happened, but every time I “fall off the wagon” and go completely vegetarian again, I get sick. It’s made me grateful to people like you, who clearly do their best to raise their animals humanely and safely for human consumption

    Anyway, enough about me! I was hoping you might have the time to answer some questions for me.

    1) I understand (and truly believe) that you raise your animals well. However, with the multitude of alternatives available for healthy and balanced eating that don’t involve eating animals, why do you choose to feed them to yourself and your family?

    2) How do you select where your cattle is “processed”, and do you believe that your animals there are truly slaughtered without pain or suffering? How do you know either way? It sounds like you are not very involved other than the loading them onto the trucks, but every single video I’ve seen of “cattle processing” looks incredibly painful and cruel. I’ve seen throat slitting, hitting cattle on the head with hammers, and decapitation videos for reference. None of these options seem humane.

    3) How do you think we should go about bridging the gap between those that believe we should not consume any animal products (crazy, super vegan PETA types), moderate vegetarians, your typical meat eaters, humane famers like yourself, and those farms that DO deal with cattle inhumanely? Is there a workable solution to this?

    I apologise for the long comment, but I had a lot to say! Your blog is extremely interesting, I can’t wait to read more.

    • Hi Ashley,

      First of all I want to thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and also for the comment that you left. The questions that you ask and the points that you raise are all very good ones and I am happy to do my best to answer them. I will make an effort here to generally answer your questions, but plan to do a couple of blog posts next week to answer them more fully so please tune in next week for those more detailed answers.

      1. I think that our childhood experiences play a huge role in shaping our core beliefs. You were raised in a vegetarian household and obviously hold a great respect for your father who shared those beliefs with you. Contrastingly, while I was raised in urban America and was not involved in agriculture, my father was/is an avid hunter and fisherman. We hunted as a family almost every weekend a couple of hours west of where I grew up. My dad taught me how to shoot, my mom taught me how to clean the animals that we shot and also how to cook them. Many nights what we ate for dinner we either hunted (quail, dove, duck, wild hog) or caught (fish). From early in my life, my father taught me that while animals should always be respected, it was also acceptable to sacrifice them for human consumption. That core belief is one that I have always held (very similar to your own experience with a core vegetarian belief). I truly do not believe that either one of us is wrong in our beliefs, we simply believe different things.

      I am raising my children with the same core belief that my dad raised me with: animals should always be well cared for and respected; however, it is acceptable to kill them to provide human food. I serve my family beef that I have raised almost every day. It is full of zinc, iron and protein that is important for immune system function, cognitive development, muscle growth, and oxygen flow throughout the body. When you pair beef with fruits and vegetables and whole grains, it makes for a very nutritious dinner and I know that I am getting my children the nutrition that they need. I, like you, have personally had a battle with anemia. Beef plays a very important role in my own personal attempt to keep normal iron levels. My oldest daughter has, off and on, also struggled with her iron levels and I believe that serving her beef helps her to remain healthy. I know that it is possible for some folks to be vibrantly healthy on a vegetarian diet (your dad is a great example of that), but I choose to feed my children beef because I think that it can be incorporated into a healthy diet and bring them greater diversity in nutrients and vitamins.

      At another level, I serve my family the beef that I raise because it brings me a sense of pride to raise the food that I feed to my family. I know that it is safe and healthy, and I know that a lot of hard work and care has gone into making that steak–roast–hamburger. It also teaches my children a valuable lesson of “knowing where you food comes from”. My girls spend a lot of time with me at the feed yard and have a “first hand” view of what it takes to make beef. While I am not the best at “tending” a vegetable garden anymore (I used to have a huge and weed free garden before I had three children!), I do grow vegetables in a home garden during our “growing season” which is May to the end of August. I feel the same pride when I feed my kids our “home grown” vegetables that I do when I serve them “home grown” beef. I try to make a point in the summer time to sometimes serve meals where all of the food on the table was grown by us.

      2. If you go back to the category on the home page labeled “Calf #718”, you can read the long series of posts that I wrote tracing a calf (#718) from birth to harvest. Most of my cattle are harvested through a company called U.S. Premium Beef which is a cooperative of ranchers/cattlemen(like myself) that own the majority share of a large meat packing company called National Beef. The vast majority of my cattle are harvested at National Beef’s packing plant in Dodge City, KS. I have toured National’s plant and personally watched the process of cattle being unloaded from the truck and then taken into the packing plant for harvest. Watching animals die is never a “pretty picture”, but I do believe that the animals’ death is quick and as humane as possible. Dr. Temple Grandin has done an amazing job of improving the care/handling of cattle at the packing plant level of beef production. Perhaps you have read one of her books or watched her movie? Most, if not all, of the big packing plants have consulted with Dr. Grandin to ensure that their facilities and their employees understand how to handle and move cattle. The cattle are taken up onto a moving conveyor and stunned prior to the throat slitting process that you described. Proper stunning ensures that the animal does not feel pain. I am going to be really honest with you, as I stood on the “kill floor” and watched the cattle be harvested, I asked myself if I truly thought that it was 1. humane, and 2, necessary. I answered “yes” to both questions, but I promise that I did some soul searching in the process. I do not take the life of my animals for granted–I know that they are sacrificed in order to provide food for myself and my family and I am thankful for their gift.

      3. Wow, this is a good question and one that could feasibly take a lifetime to answer! I believe at a basic level that we must all respect one another and our individual beliefs. Every human being has a right to his/her own ideas and beliefs, and I believe that this “choice” is one that must be accepted and respected. We can all have a conversation if we hold respect for each other and our respective beliefs. Through conversation, we can learn from each other and continually improve. Passing good and accurate information to one another allows us to have this conversation. Yelling and condemning one another only leads to hatred and disrespect, and I do not believe that anything positive comes from that. I am going to continue to think on this and will provide a more in depth answer in a post next week.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to read my posts and to ask such good questions. I look forward to continuing our conversation over time and hope that you will continue to read. I am going to continue to think on each of your three questions and will provide some more information next week in my posts. I am sure that there are many other people wondering the same thing!


  6. Pingback: The Conversationalist… | Feed Yard Foodie

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