The Gift…

Animals play important roles in most of our lives. I have never lived in a house without a pet; and we currently have a dog and three cats enjoying the comfort of our home. When I moved to the farm in 1997, I learned about a new type of animal: a food animal. This animal exists for the sole purpose of providing food and other resources for all of us. It serves a very different purpose than a pet.


As much as my pets enrich my life, at the end of the day, I believe that the gift that my bovine food animals give to me is more precious. When my cattle leave the feed yard, they travel to a packing plant in order to give the gift of nutrition. Their gift nourishes my family as well as yours.

  • I believe that my cattle play a critical role in providing needed nourishment.
  • I believe that it is ethical to kill animals for the benefit of humans.
  • I believe that it is possible to end a food animal’s life humanely.

Dr. Temple Grandin has revolutionized cattle handling and humane care at the level of the packing plant over the past twenty years. From changes in equipment – to employee training – to auditing – to camera placement to further verify compliance, Dr. Grandin’s work plays a critical role in bovine care at the time of slaughter.

CAB Anne feedyard

The quality of my bovines’ end of life experience is important to me. As a result, I make it a priority to take periodic trips to the packing plant. I have witnessed every aspect of the slaughter process, and I believe that my packing plant partner does an excellent job of remaining committed to a painless and humane death experience for my cattle.

I cannot imagine my life without cattle and the resources that they provide. I consider myself blessed that I can spend my days caring for animals that give the gift of nutrition. 

AGXC.jpgBeef’s Big Ten pack a powerful health punch:

  • Zinc: helps maintain a healthy immune system
  • Iron: helps the body use oxygen
  • Protein: preserves and builds muscles
  • Vitamins B6 and B 12: help maintain brain function
  • Phosphorus: helps builds bones and teeth
  • Niacin: supports energy production and metabolism
  • Riboflavin: helps convert food into fuel
  • Choline: supports nervous system development
  • Selenium: helps protect cells from damage

Each time that I load my cattle on the truck to ship to the packing plant, I am thankful for their gift. I respect that gift as I appreciate the beef meals that I feed to my family as well as the other beef products that come from cattle.

I recognize the sacrifice that my animals make to improve the quality of my own life, and I honor them by offering quality care while they are on my farm.





Filed under Animal Welfare, General

12 responses to “The Gift…

  1. cowdoc

    Absolutely – we need to recognize the sacrifice animals make to provide us with food and we should do this by providing them with a life worth living and a humane death.

  2. cara

    a bit off topic here but I’m not sure where to ask about it: Tama, Iowa will be starting up its packing plant this year. That’s all wonderful, but why does everything I try to find out about it say that it is “100% halal”, and when I look this up I find it means slaughter without stunning first, AND most disturbing to me is the “invokation of Allah’s name over every beef animal slaughtered”. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t want “in God we trust”, or “God save the Queen” or “I love DisneyWorld” invoked over any slaughter in my country. …can anyone elucidate this?

    • Jack Knight

      cant address this directly, but i do that the Kosher slaughter process at the postville beef kill has been controversial from a humane standpoint as well and criticism of it was characterized as racist/antisemitic

      • Jack Knight

        Humane handling also improves meat quality. Humane care in raising livestock improves health and feed efficency . A little investment in time and infrastructure to improve humane handling makes for less work and stress in the work on a farm as well.

      • I agree, Jack — that humane handling is a win for all — the cattle, the cattle handler, the environment, and the meat quality.

    • Cara,

      I believe that there is a “religious exemption” that allows Kosher plants to slaughter without first stunning. The majority of cattle are not slaughtered in “Kosher plants” so this applies to only a small minority of animals. There are many (Dr. Grandin included) that are trying hard to get rid of this exemption because of the welfare implications for the animals. I visited a “Kosher” packing plant facility about 15 years ago — at that time, the slaughter process was different than what you see in the traditional/major/large packing plants. I do not know what changes have occurred in Kosher plants since my visit in 1999; but the traditional packing plants have maintained constant positive improvement relative to animal welfare during that time.

      There are religious protocols that go along with the process that you are describing. I am unfamiliar with them, so cannot comment more on what is said during the process.


      • cara

        Right, I thank you, but I am aware of all that….what I want to know is specifically about the halal stuff at the Tama plant.

    • Cara,

      I found the following short article that talks about halal beef and describes some of the specifications. I honestly don’t know anything in particular about the Tama, Iowa plant. I’m sorry that I can’t offer anything more specific. Halal beef is a “food choice”/niche market that I do not participate in — a very specific market that offers a unique “food choice” to those people that for religious reasons ask for beef that comes out of a different slaughter process.


      • cara

        Thank you Anne, I am excited by the fact that the Tama pack is contracting with area feeders, but it seems weird and disturbing that each animal (and 100% of the animals to be killed here) is slaughtered in the name of Allah. Creekstone is one of the backers as is the Halal Transactions of Omaha.

        Kosher is not the same as halal, but they do have some similarities such as ritualistic slaughter.

        Maybe I’m the only one disturbed by this stuff, but I’m not sure I want my cattle being offered to Allah as a sacrifice. Any thoughts, anyone?

  3. Sue Fan Ferguson

    If only more people felt (and lived their beliefs) like you do, Anne!

    • Thank you, Sue Fan 🙂 I do believe that many farmers share quality values/morals — I am not unique in that I care about my animals. Although, my girls would certainly tell you that “Mama has high standards”…And, I am very proud of that.

      I hope that all is well in Florida!

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