Beef Industry Issues

There are many daunting ethical issues within the livestock industry. Every animal produced for human (or pet) consumption goes through a process that not everyone agrees with. Previously, I’ve blogged about a couple issues within the poultry industry that are quite controversial. I’d like to expand on some issues within the cattle industry this time, since it would be more prevalent to people of the area.

Keep in mind the differences between animal rights and animal welfare. Many articles implement human feelings towards animals, which isn’t necessarily right. Unless you can mind read cattle, there are few things we know about how animals feel. The article I picked is from The Human Society of the United States. Although it may not seem like it, this organization is animal rights based.

Read through the Cattle portion and skim through the rest of the article. (Hint: click on article<<<).

I’ll tell you one thing right off the bat, this website is horribly misleading. Most information on the website is skewed towards the beliefs of animal rights. The thing that makes me shake my head the most lies at the end of the article. HSUS (Human Society of United States) talks about animal welfare. How accurate could their take of animal welfare be if they are an animal rights based organization? I couldn’t believe they linked another website about animal welfare at the end of the article which lead to their own website. www.FarmAnimalWelfare.org. <<< Click on it and take a look. If you knew HSUS was animal rights based, you would also know that their credibility just took a huge nose dive.

Now that I’m done with my rant about credibility, lets move onto the good stuff. BEEF. MILK. VEAL. Those are the cattle products HSUS brought up in the article.

Side note: VEAL=CALF slaughtered <1 year. Younger = more tender.

Anyways, the next point they bring up is about the beef industry, in-which I will focus on because I don’t have as much space to explain dairy cattle. “Most cattle raised for beef are castrated, de-horned, and branded, painful procedures often performed without any anesthesia”. This will be the ethical issue I will be debating. I can’t deny that there is pain involved with these procedures, but they are done to protect the animals and their handlers in the long run.

Castration. Animal Welfare Approved explains further that, “Entire bulls tend to be more aggressive to both stock people and other cattle, and can cause problems with unwanted breeding. They also generally produce lower quality meat. Castration eliminates all these problems”. There you have it, couldn’t have said it better myself. The pain of castration concerns the age of the animal and method used. Younger animals go through less pain. Banding (literally a tight band placed around the balls) or surgical procedures are the most popular. Both procedures come with some pain and have similar results.

De-horning. The best way around the de-horning of cattle is to genetically modify breeds to not have horns. Simple. Since the industry does have horned cattle we do have to take precautions. The American Veterinary Medical Association puts it best saying, “Dehorning cattle conveys advantages. Horns are the single major cause of carcass wastage due to bruising, and trim associated with bruising for carcasses from horned cattle is approximately twice that for carcasses from hornless cattle. Dehorned cattle require less feeding trough space; are easier and less dangerous to handle and transport; present a lower risk of interference from dominant animals at feeding time; pose a reduced risk of injury to udders, flanks, and eyes of other cattle; present a lower injury risk for handlers, horses, and dogs; exhibit fewer aggressive behaviors associated with individual dominance; and may incur fewer financial penalties on sale”. Pain is a given for this procedure no matter what. Anesthesia is the best way to tackle the pain cattle will feel.

Branding.  Something that has been done for a number of years to show ownership. Just like an ear tag or tattoo that could be place on the animal, branding is another viable option. Agriculture Proud mentions, “(Branding) is especially important in Western states, where grazing of public lands is vital to raising cattle. Out on the vast ranges cattle can easily wonder or get mixed with other herds”. There is another alternative to hot branding and that is freeze branding. The brand is cooled to a negative temperature and then place on the cow. Pain will last momentarily and not long term.

Hopefully you learned a little bit about some ethical issues within animal welfare. Just remember to do your background checks, you never know who might or might not be reliable.

Resources

  1. http://animalwelfareapproved.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/TAFS9.pdf
  2.  https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/LiteratureReviews/Pages/Welfare-Implications-of-Dehorning-and-Disbudding-Cattle.aspx
  3. http://agricultureproud.com/2012/06/13/why-are-cattle-branded/
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