Good Care, Content Cattle, Great Beef…

One of my favorite classic country western songs is by Aaron Tippin.  It is called “You’ve Got To Stand For Something”, and the refrain goes something like this:

You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.  You’ve got to be your own man, not a puppet on a string.  Never compromise what’s right and uphold your family name. You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything…

I have lost track of the number of times that I have burst out into enthusiastic song with this refrain when my girls ask me why a decision that I have made is important.  Perhaps the most entertaining part is the classic “eye roll” that I get from my favorite 12 year old following my serenade—although truthfully the best part is that she knows the refrain by heart and is learning to live it in her own life.

Out just after dawn, determinedly chasing a dream with her loyal sidekick…100 miles in 4 weeks!

When I started raising cattle 15 years ago, I brought some ideas regarding animal welfare with me that were deeply entrenched in my heart.  As much as I believe that it is morally acceptable to raise animals for the production of food, I also believe that offering good care to those animals during their lifetime is my moral duty.  I rely on professional scientists (like my veterinarian) to provide the basis for my animal care decisions, but I also lead with my heart.

Just like my favorite 12 year old, I am also out at dawn–pursuing a different dream– one of raising cattle  and making high quality beef…

There are times when my standards for care are unique amongst my peers.  I am OK with that because I know that I must always stay true to my beliefs.  I know that while physical fitness is imperative for good health and welfare, understanding the mental and emotional needs of my animals is equally important.  I believe that limiting the stress that my animals experience is intrinsically tied to the physiological balance and health of them.

These animals are curious…In both Megan and the mineral tub.

To do a good job caring for cattle, I must understand their needs and be able to offer appropriate care on their level.  Healthy and content cattle are innately curious in addition to being more efficient convertors of natural resources (feed) as they make beef.

He is bigger and almost ready to be shipped to harvest, but he is curious and content too…

The science and the numbers support what my heart tells me about good animal care.  Recently, I shipped a group of steers to harvest.  I weaned these animals at the feed yard and cared for them through the winter and into the spring.  The animals gained 4.33 pounds of weight per day at the feed yard, and required 5.16 pounds of feed for each pound of animal gain.  This is outstanding performance and is the direct result of high quality care. The animals also performed incredibly well at the packing plant and made high quality, well-marbled and tender beef.

This is what highly marbled and tender beef looks like before you cook it…

As I watched these animals load up onto the truck destined for harvest, I knew in my heart that by standing firm in my beliefs that I had enabled them to be both comfortable during their stay at the feed yard and also successful in their quest to make great tasting beef…

Hard work and good care is the American way!

6 Comments

Filed under Animal Welfare, General

6 responses to “Good Care, Content Cattle, Great Beef…

  1. Bravo! Thank you for your intentional care in producing quality beef. Living on Long Island, it is unlikely, but I would like to think that the carefully chosen cuts of beef we purchase have received your attention.

    • Hi Terri,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment. My beef ends up all across the United States and is also shipped internationally. Maybe you are eating something that I raised!

      All the best,
      Anne

  2. Great post Anne. Good luck with the heat ahead this way. Just out of curiosity, what ways do you keep your cattle cool during the summer heat? Do you sprinkle or just provide shade? I just got an email yesterday afternoon about the potential for severe heat stress this week in Nebraska. I assume it was a statewide alert and not just an eastern Nebraska problem (where I’m located).

    • Hi Leslie,

      Today is really the first hot day for us and there is not much humidity so we are doing alright. We do have the ability to spray our cattle with water to help them deal with the heat. The two biggest factors are 1. is it a dry heat and 2. does it cool down below 70 degrees at night to allow the animals to recover. The dry heat is much easier for my animals to deal with than a hot and sticky / humid heat.

      This will be a difficult week for all of us (humans and animals).

      Anne

  3. Great post! I hope that the rest of the industry can look to you and see what a great example you have set. We love our animals and must treat them with care and make sure to meet their needs.

    Hannah
    theambitiouscattlegirl.com

    • Hannah,

      Leading by example is often a very powerful tool. I believe that no matter how good you are, you can always get better—I strive for that each and every day with the care that I offer to my animals.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!
      Anne

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