Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Continuing story

Just in case you're worried it's been forgotten, here's the brief update on the abandoned pig farm in Pennsylvania.

No honesty

I could've probably labeled this post "HSUS" since it would've been a synonymous title, but who really would've wanted to read a post with that title? Let's talk for a few minutes about the past couple of weeks worth of reports and commentary stemming from the ADSA e-newsletter I receive. Feedstuffs does a really great job of combining relevant articles and attracting attention to critical issues in their assistance to this e-newsletter and the last couple of weeks have been especially good so I'm just going to have time to share briefly the best of the lot, because I think that these all link together nicely.

It wasn't too long ago that HSUS released yet another video of a bunch of alleged poultry abuse and neglect on a farm in Texas. Well, the UEP invited reporters to visit this same farm on an unguarded tour of the whole facility. They were free to ask any question, take any picture and record any video. Of course, HSUS didn't solicit any of this media for their own benefit, but I think this reporter would argue that's because it all turned out to be a lie. (And in case you think it's possible to clean up a farm's act in that short of time, let me just say it can't happen. It would've been easier to just go out of business and restart than to clean up a bad act that fast).

I recommend you to read both parts of this farm visit, starting with an introduction and then more of the specific critiques in the second one. The reporter's best statement in the entire thing might be near the beginning when he says that he felt betrayed by HSUS for having been giving such faulty media for release and coverage. So it seems that nobody really likes being played, not even the media.

Of course, while we're in the habit of discrediting HSUS and their claims, we probably ought to also examine the new reports about foodborne illness incidence in the US. With new reports just released, indicating significantly lower illness occurrence than previously cited, that takes just one more bite out of the dog.

Finally, let's take a look at HSUS's past work. Prop 2 in California still sits as a relatively useless piece of legislation that is more of a legal excuse to neglect animals than it is a regulation for improved care of animals. And this is why a farm in California has petitioned for a true ruling on what this law means. If they'd have had a Care Standards Board, these things might've been more clearly defined by experts in the industry who care about animal care, rather than self-obsessed activists with little regard for the animals they steal money on behalf of. For a video feed on the chicken farm who petitioned for this clearer legialation, click here.

Share this...

... with anyone interested in reading what an objective personality had to say about their tour at one of the largest meat packing companies in the world. She really got in and saw the whole process and wrote what I would consider a stark contrast to the lies spread around by the HSUS and other scamming organizations. But don't hear it from me. Read what this dietitian and "Food Network" host had to say.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm still a skeptic...

... but this is the best anyone's been able to make him sound yet. Maybe now that Kasich is governor he's just finally able to hire good PR staff.

All I really want to know is how he thinks that removing regulation will decrease the incidence of the "few bad apples". If they can't be stopped with regulation, then how do you expect to put them out of business and stop them from ruining it for the rest of us? And the better question (usually posed by the opposition) is if the good farmers are really the "good apples", then why is the regulation a problem in the first place? Maybe the "common sense" that Kasich intends to add back to Ohio government should include simple common sense in the administration of already existing good legislature.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The end of a boycott

I knew this was coming, but it still feels a bit weird for me to say that today I went back to Chipotle and ate a huge burrito with some fantastic chips. I've been craving and when Amanda suggested it today, I finally made the leap and returned to the light. Let's be honest, the food there is delicious.

For those of you still holding out, you might call me a traitor. However, I did some reading on my own over the past few months and while Chipotle's own intentions are not clear besides the obvious desire to sell product and make money, it is clear that they have limited intentions in supporting HSUS. Of course, since Chipotle doesn't in fact support HSUS, I have little bone to pick with them and thus I was able to justify breaking the fast and consuming their good food today.

It took a while for everything to come out of the wash on this issue, and I think there are still a lot of people in the dark, but it was really when I started going back through the compiled readings I did for my previous blog post and then the outlandish claims by Humane Watch on the issue that I realized some points had truly been pushed too far. So let me put it plain and you can do your own reading and make up your own mind.

Last year when HSUS was campaigning heavily (and often sub-legally) for their ballot initiative which disregarded the people of Ohio's opinion, Chipotle was named as one of their campaign contributors. In the backlash that ensued, I became one of the boycotters, despite claims by Chipotle themselves that they didn't financially support HSUS. However, I can now understand where Chipotle's own views did come into play with their donation to HSUS's campaign. While they don't support the organization, they do and have for a while now supported the use of higher standards of food production than are standard in the industry right now. I can respect this because it is a company choice, and frankly, the consumers are paying for it. Further, Chipotle's food prices aren't unreasonable and so I am willing to pay for it as well from a "I like their food and flavor" standpoint. Chipotle supporting the HSUS campaign was just their way of saying that they stand by their viewpoint on animal production and they wanted to put a financial backing on an issue which supported their viewpoint.

Where Chipotle went wrong is that they have assumed many things that aren't necessarily true. They assumed that the ballot was really as well-intended as HSUS proposed it was. They assumed that the ballot would really effective improve animal welfare. They assumed that the lies that HSUS was pushing around about the ineffectiveness of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board were true. They assumed that the methods of livestock care supported by HSUS truly improve animal welfare. None of these things are true or have been shown to be true, and some quite to the contrary. But I can't fault a company for good intentions and they differ from a company like Yellow Tail because their contributions were for different reasons.

And so I ate Chipotle today...

Antibiotic resistance continued

For those interested, the FASS hosted an antibiotics webinar last week and it is now posted online. I apologize that the notification slipped through the cracks or I would've posted it ahead of time. Regardless, there are interesting discussions to the same extent as other articles and research I have previously posted. What we really need though is to take the talking to the next level of action towards a change.

On a totally different note, who on earth thought that they could steal cattle and get away with it? This isn't the wild west, fortunately for the perpetrators who are in jail instead of being dealt with the old-fashioned way. If you really want a laugh, read the ignorant comments below the story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

LED Sheep

Courtesy of Amanda, here's a light-hearted sheep video to spice up the blog for the holidays. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Symposium uploaded

For any readers interested, the symposium is finally uploaded and available here. I especially recommend listening to both Grandin and any others that interest you. All of them are worth the listening if you have the time.

Finals Week Fun

There's nothing quite like the life you get when you've been freed of the books and studying chaining you all quarter. Even getting up EARLY this week hasn't been able to put a damper on my mood although a severe cold is doing its best. So let me tell you about a couple of my days back in the research loop so you can understand what I do, and maybe also give you an idea of the efforts we put in to protect the food chain.

Yesterday I was up before dawn thought about the day. We met on campus and left in the truck around 5.30 to head North to a pig farm where we would be collecting samples starting at 7.00. This research is specifically for finding ways to better handle and treat pigs so that they are less stressed on a daily basis. Not only is stress reduction important to the consumer, but it is important to the farmers because they want to keep their animals as healthy as possible.

After sample collection, helping to save a pig from the abuse of its pen-mates and saying goodbye to the farmer, we were headed back to campus. I grabbed a quick shower and then hung out until I had a meeting in the afternoon. After the meeting I went downstairs to learn how to make the plug-ins for the thermometer we use in some experiments. This was frustrating work, but thankfully all I was doing was learning so in the time I made 1 successfully, Katie had made 5. At the end of a 12 hour day, I went home to Amanda and finally got to relax for the rest of the evening before an early bedtime in preparation for this morning.

This morning was pig slaughter/harvest. Because it's the end of the quarter, there were less students on the floor, but their vacancy was taken up by some researchers and their visiting colleagues from my alma mater who were collecting liver, jejunum and duodenum samples for a variety of research purposes. This just goes to further emphasize the critical value of animal by-products in the world around us.

My job this morning was to singe the hair and scape any remaining hair from the skin of the pig. Hair can harbor bacteria which can later infect people, and even though we don't eat the skin, the skin comes into the meat lab where food products will be fabricated, so it's crucial to make sure we keep the area as sterile as possible. The removal of hair is so important and time-consuming that half of the crew today was dedicated solely to this purpose, with me at the end of the line, singing what hadn't already been spun off the skin or shaved by 4 people with knives. Following the end of harvest, we then proceeded to scrub down every inch of the facility, sterilizing and sanitizing the living daylights out of it to prevent any bacterial growth before the next time we use it.

For the rest of today, I'll be reading journal articles on subjects that potentially could be in my field of research next summer. All just a couple of days in my life...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Praise from the Secretary

I think it's really wonderful to be involved in the industry that USDA Secretary Vilsack cited as "leading this country's recovery". Everyone needs and deserves to be able to eat and America's farmers should be proud to have that responsibility. Those numbers don't look too bad either.

Also, for a really great read building on that blatantly erroneous (no wonder they struggle to stay in business) New York Times cheese article, read this...

It's nice to see that HSUS is doing great things with its money. Especially seeing as how they just won that community refresh funding from Pepsi for saving cats and dogs.

And that's all for today. I hope it's a great one for you!

Antibiotics discussion

The State News never supports healthy discussion that disagrees or might sway readers against their own self-proclaimed liberalism. However, in the interest of freedom of speech and thought, I will post mine here for your benefit in response to the latest antibiotic opinion column. All I did below was compile research published in journals. That's not just going to Google and copying the first article you see. Journals are refereed by research peers who don't usually have the same viewpoints as you, but they check to see if you have researched and concluded in a way in which is scientifically justifiable. Enjoy.

"For a picture of how banning antibiotics will play out, I refer you to the case of Denmark which is now standing out some years from when their bans were put in place in the mid-90's. Their bans were pushed for by the media, the consumers and the politicians, yet the ideological benefits of banning the antibiotics are either not present or non-convincing from a statistical standpoint. This is important when you weigh out the fact that the number of hog farms in Denmark are anticipated to dwindle from 25,000 to 5,000 by the year 2015. Not only have the benefits of banning antibiotics not been seen as they were promised, but now the industry has moved on, leaving people without jobs and without a better prospect in life, which far overshadows the fear of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

"What the contributor in the most recent antibiotic opinion column fails to observe is that there are different types of bacteria. Growth-promoting antibiotics counteract gram-positive bacteria while the bulk of the rising number of antibiotic resistant cases are caused by gram-negative bacteria. Banning growth-promoting antibiotics which are fed on a daily basis will have no impact on the resistance of gram-negative bacteria because of how differently the bacteria function. The faulty reasoning contributing to the bans resulted in outbreak infections increasing instead of the consumer anticipated decrease. Even in the case of those bacteria which could increase in resistance, there has been a rise in their infection rates post-ban as well since the growth promoters also contribute to a cleaner kill floor with less GI ruptures, etc., since they are keeping the GI tract healthier.

"In the end, in an antibiotic free Denmark, there has been in increase in infection and no change in resistance. Just because the consumer always gets what they want, that doesn't mean they are always right or that life will get better for them. They are just ignorantly blissful because they have swallowed sugar-coated lies."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This is why I blog

Sometimes I blog because I want to share thoughts, but then other times, this same blog can serve as an outlet for my inner monologue, those thoughts that I want to shout out but better judgment helps me retain.

Such is the case today as I read the Farm Sanctuary's latest post. Frankly, I don't mind linking you to their posts because I think that their compassion for animals is admirable, and their efforts are almost reasonable enough that I would frankly rather them get the attention than other less deserving organizations. But what I do detest is the active use of a plethora of emotional words in their blog in order to blind the public from considering the rational truth of a topic.

Yes, there are farmers that fail to care for their animals in the way in which they should. But this aggravates the rest of the farming population as much or more than it does the people who complain to the media about it. And these same aggravated farmers are the ones who continue to care for their animals in the best way that they can, and the best way that science has shown them to, while they actively pursue the weeding out of those few bad egg farmers in the batch. Nobody wants to do business with a bad farmer, but just the same, none of us want to have a bunch of activists trying to cram lies down the throats of the public, which is why we'd rather fix the consumer concerns ourselves with proper self-regulation and research-proven techniques for better animal care.

Deceitful propaganda didn't end up serving the needs of it proponents in the past nor will it end with the success that animal activists are wishing for. In the end, the truth will be known for what it is, and it's best for animal activists to stop exaggerating their lies beyond reason.

But for today, I had this blog for my out-channel of frustration so I have included below what I decided not to post in a comment box:

"Merciless and violent slaughter? Your use of emotional words proves your inability to accurately, rationally and logically assess a situation, and/or it demonstrates your willingness to blow fact into the wind to drive readers toward your venomous embrace."

As an after-thought, I'm not sure I would actually even want to have a merciful employee on the slaughter line. If they were merciful, does that also mean they would be prone to regret and not do a proper job, thus leading to a more painful and incorrectly performed kill?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Feminism and Veganism

Courtesy of Jackie, I have the chance to get just a little bit more vocal and opinionated today. MSU recently had author Carol Adams in to talk about how closely linked feminism and veganism are in the modern world. Of course it would make sense that the same people who are unwilling to accept that they have been more than equals in the US for a long time now (why else would I as a white male be a minority?) would be the same people who might want to align their efforts with another irrational underdog in the way of veganists and their avid animal activism. What they fail to realize is that while veganism and animal rights may be a current topic of debate, focusing on feminism merely degrades women in today's time since most women are functioning as equals in the modern world unless they try to make a big deal about being a woman. It's only once a woman advocates feminism that they actually degrade their value in the public's eyes, because it proves that they can't get out of the past and move on to accept the new status that they've been arguing for for decades.


Adams also talked about the pornography of meat. I would be lying if I told you I was attracted Lady Gaga in her photos of the meat dress (gag). Does that mean I don't like to eat meat? No, I love to eat meat, and have never before linked women and meat together in my life, and I doubt I'm in a minority here. But I can tell you one person who has Lady Gaga as his profile picture right now, for who knows what reason.


And then who better to represent MSU on the subject of Feminism and Veganism that SPAR and their very own Mitch Goldsmith (President of MSU SPAR). Of course, he's not actually a female, despite the fact he's pumped up on estrogen from high soy consumption as a result of his veganism, but since he thought he could get a word in on stopping meat consumption he stuck his face in the news this week and the liberal State News obliged as always.

Now, I had no doubt Mitch would eventually find himself in a leadership role in this radical organization. He's rude, inconsiderate, highly opinionated, unable to exhibit intelligence or debate intelligibly and has a major that could only result in his placement in a sub-standard organization campaigning for something unreasonable (animal rights). (Disclaimer - there is a difference between animal welfare and animal rights, I support greater welfare, but animals rights is a ridiculous concept in terms of economics, philosophy and general practicality).

The last time Mitch and I ran into each other wasn't exactly a positive interaction. I patiently waited for over a half hour as he continuously ignored me in my attempt to ask a question of the PETA VP. His mistake would in turn be costly as it gave me the time to formulate a much more pointed question which ended with the PETA VP Dan Matthews embarrassing himself at his own pep rally.

Veganism (as a form of activism as it was proposed by Carol Adams according to the State News) and feminism only have one thing in common. They are both supported by radicals who make little or nil logical sense in their attempts to propagate viewpoints that do nothing but insult their intelligence. Feminism had a place in this world once, but combining it with veganism only detracts from both causes. Feminism combined with veganism only portrays women as the weaker sex who refuse to accept the ultimate reality that it takes life to support life. Veganism (and animals rights) combined with feminism results in an even less legitimate concept in animal rights by joining forces with an outdated concept which no longer applies to the modern world (the only part of the world where veganism and animal rights can attract favor).

Catchy Titles (duplicate post)

In an effort to capture a larger readership, I have been trying to work on my ability to attract attention with just the blog title. Mind you, that still means I need to retain attention within the blog, but that will come next. First I just want to trick you into reading my ramblings. So I've been roaming the web looking for catchy titles so that I will learn how to better attract attention to my own blog.

None does a better job of this than the video I embed below. The title got me interested immediately and then the picture (people dressed as polar bears) made me click and listen to the movie. In the end, I actually want to make some notes about this movie and my thoughts that surround it. I think this is characteristic of many activist groups - they are much better at capturing the attention of the public and blinding their reasoning with wittiness and emotions. This all starts with a title.



First off, congratulations to the group for capturing my attention and getting your point across. While your point lacks originality, the costumes are definitely a nice change from the nude protesters that frequent my own industry. But then I have to ask you, what exactly makes this a peaceful protest? You have trespassed private property, stormed control of the companies machinery and then locked yourself to the equipment. Does this really mean the protest was peaceful, just because you didn't assault the workers?

And then the locks. Nothing quite like a New York City bike lock to imply you mean to stay hitched for a while. I don't think there is a cause in the world for which I would lock my neck in a grip like that to anything. It's not that there aren't causes that I firmly believe in, it's that there is no way you'll catch me willingly placing myself into a position of such weakness. And as a final thought, I offer this video as a counter-point to why Polar Bears are going extinct. Thanks Gail!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Ohio Ag Director

With the new Kasich change-up, a lot of things have to be determined in the next year to see how things will shake out. One of the new items of importance in Ohio agriculture is of course a new Ohio Agriculture Director. Regardless of the credentials of the incoming staff, one has to wonder how it will work out with HSUS and whether we will see the return of a ballot issue again next year. Of course, the last thing we need right now is to re-enter that uncertainty we had this summer with the ballot issue on the horizon and illegal signature collectors all over the state.

I can appreciate that Zehringer looks to be a hard-line director for Ohio agriculture, but hopefully he and Kasich can also work some moderation in there to keep us on the track towards gradual progress. Otherwise, all of the hard work we've put in towards progress in the livestock industry will be wasted.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vilsack on Colbert

For those of you interested, you can hear how the Colbert interview of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack went down. Frankly, that cheese head looks a but more like Dick Cheney to me.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tom Vilsack
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Egg farm visit blog

This blogging mother decided to talk about the opportunity she had to visit a modern egg farm and see how her food was made. Thanks to the Animal Agriculture Alliance for sharing this link. What a great way to tell people about agriculture! If you want to make a visit, ask, and it can be arranged for you. If you've made a visit, contact me because I'd love to share your story.

Refresh Finalists

Thanks to those of you who voted, but sadly, the results of last month's Refresh voting are not reflective of your good intentions.

Sustainability

There's not a day that goes by where I don't either hear about doomsday predictions for the world or about how we're trying to increase our sustainability in the current world. I would agree that the environment and the state we maintain this world in are very important. This is why I have been such a big proponent of recycling, conservation and research for more sustainable future ever since my days in 4-H (which is where I was first introduced to the importance of the subject). Heck, I even took environmental science classes during my undergraduate career even though they were out of my major because they were subjects that interested me. However, when I was looking at the OSU Sustainability website and taking their survey today, I think there are still some items to consider which they aren't fully considering.

One of these is the organic and buying local initiative at OSU for their food supply. These two are so often lumped into the group, something that authors like Michael Pollan haven't done enough to distinguish, when in fact they are starkly different and can have quite a varying impact on the environment.

Sure, buying local is good, but it's not just good because of the transportation costs. Ideally, every area would be able to produce what people need, but this isn't possible or practical right now. It's important to consider that sometimes the larger, more distant farm is more economical and also more environmentally friendly in the long-run because they are better able to afford and enact environmental conservation business practices, as well as condense production to the extent that the impact on the environment is still reduced compared to strictly local production after adding in transport impacts. This is why for the time being, buying local is a good thing, but don't expect to be able to buy everything local because it all can't be grown local, and it's really ok to buy some stuff that is shipped distances as well. Different parts of the world have different specialties when it comes to food production and this production sharing allows us to have the opportunity to live healthier and to benefit from regions that can raise some food products more economically. It all just comes down to considering how we can best use the land we're given.

And then there's organic production. Organic farming seems like the utopic heaven of farming where we don't impact the land with "bad" chemicals and we only grow what we can do more naturally. Well, half of these myths are created by the ignorant public and media, and most of the rest are propagated by those who stand to profit. I'm not against organic farming as a consumer choice, but it's important to realize that this also can impact disease control and always results in less production on the same amount of space with the same amount of labor and resources. Is less efficient production really good for the environment?

As agricultural research leads to more environmentally beneficial stewardship techniques, I am sure we will see a combination of the concepts in GMOs, organics, local-growns, grass-feds, free-ranges and conventional farming techniques. But in the world we live in now, none of these are a perfect solution to the challenges we face, so I caution against doing what OSU seems to have done by jumping on the local and organic bandwagon and claiming that they are thus helping conserve our environment.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Symposium Reflections

Since I just got home not too long ago from the 2nd Annual Animal Welfare Symposium at the wonderful State 4-H Center on Ohio State's campus, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share my reflections on the afternoon in a semi-sequential format.

1) The people and the atmosphere were much less hostile than last year, given the passage of Issue 2 and the HSUS deal struck over the summer to allow for the Livestock Care Standards Board to operate as it was intended. I felt like the questions were much less heated and much more focused on actual learning. It was a nice change, even from the meeting this summer. It was also really nice to work a short standards board update into the afterlunch. Interesting to note is the discussion about how Ohio will probably not make it by the December deadline for a referendum on some current housing systems. However, we were also told that HSUS has been doing a lot of meeting with other involved organizations relative to the summer deal and that there was a good understanding of how much work had been put forth to get where we are currently.

2) The people running the symposium are great. It was well organized, in a great facility, and attended by over 300 people this year. As anticipated, the food was almost the best part of the day and Mike did a great job keeping the technology up and running so the day went off without an obvious hitch. Awesome.

3) The first speaker had some good information about opinions of Ohioans related to Animal Welfare. She just struggled severely with expressing anything clearly or in any consideration of time. She mentioned early that as an Easterner she spoke very fast. Frankly, I thought she might've spoken a bit fast, sure, but she didn't say a whole lot more than if she'd spoken more slowly and deliberately. The Q and A also helped clarify a lot more of her work, but some questions which I thought were fairly important to the research and the presentation were not answered at all and the audience was left questioning the value of the first presentation, of which I am sure there was some but it was difficult to sort through some poor representation of her hard work. It's always tough to elaborate thoughts to the satisfaction of your audience in such a short time period.

4) All the rest of the speakers did a fine job and spoke about relevant information, doing a good job of holding the audience's attention. If my chair hadn't been so uncomfortable, I could've sat there all day. There was little that wasn't worth hearing, even the information that I've already heard a few times. Hearing discussions does a good job of keeping issues current in my mind.

As the week rolls on, I'll be taking study breaks to give short synopsi of different speakers, the topics they discussed and my related opinions. However, in the near future the presentations will be posted. I encourage you to follow the link and watch the powerpoints yourself. It's always better to do your own thinking.

Last day to vote on Refresh

This is my reminder that this is the last day to vote for the current Pepsi Refresh project ideas. PLEASE help vote in other outstanding ideas that will better energize and inspire our community than the greedy lies of HSUS.

Professional Faux Pas (duplicate post)

Although termed as going against the socially accepted norms, my personal favorite definition is more literal, "missteps, or false steps". Since I was at the Animal Welfare Symposium all day, I decided to keep some notes on behaviors and attitudes that are just unacceptable in a professional setting, and all of which I guarantee you happened today.

1) Spilling food on yourself. Everyone does it, but that doesn't mean you ever want to be the one. Spilling food on yourself can be embarrassing, even before you also consider the occasional super embarrassing spots you can drop food or drink. The only thing worse than spilling food on yourself is spilling it on someone else. But if you are spilled on, consider it a favor. That person severely owes you in the future and you would be wise not to let them forget it.

2) Cutting your colleagues off in the parking lot or even a few miles down the road. Just because you are out of the meeting, that doesn't mean your peers and colleagues might not be just behind you or beside you as you make your way down the road. It goes without saying that you should be courteous on the road, but ever more so when you are leaving a meeting where you are hoping that some people will favorably remember you.

3) Striking up conversation in the bathroom. Men, you better really know a guy well if you think you're going to start a conversation at the urinal. Talk about ultimate awkward... it's best just to avoid any conversation in the bathroom and save it for where normal conversations take place.

4) Taking this one step further, I would like to specifically degrade the man who caught a presenter in the bathroom to tell him how much he liked the guy's talk. Well, despite whether or not this bit of praise mattered to said presenter, any brownie points gained were lost before they had been tallied. To make matters worse, he proceeded to correct the presenter's grammar on a particular slide, criticizing him for his use of "disinterested" instead of "uninterested". Speaking of, he probably also wrote this link.

5) Pretending to care about people you don't give a hoot about is nearly as rude as blowing them off. There is a way to be both formal and unfriendly while professionally communicative to people you don't like, unless of course you are good enough at pretending to take interest in those you dislike in a convincing, falsely genuine manner.

6) Finally, never make the mistake of assuming you know something about people only to find out your error after the fact. Most people like talking about themselves, so ask questions and let them remind you of what you most likely forgot.

I leave you with the following picture, courtesy of floatingfoam.com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Punishment, for all involved?

As the verdicts are passed and punishment is doled out to those involved in the animal abuse in Vermont last year, I really only have one question to ask. Where is the penalty for the "undercover" investigator who did nothing to prevent the abuse? How is it that being accessory to the crime and doing nothing to prevent it doesn't make you additionally guilty of the crime? How is it that we can't track down and punish those who claim to defend the animal but when in time of trial, fail to defend it from the abuse they claim to detest?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pepsi Refresh Update

The HSUS's inconsiderate abuse of the Pepsi Refresh community funding voting continues to lead the charts. Sign up, vote often and help legitimate project ideas come to fruition.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jane Goodall (duplicate post)

I just wanted to take a minute to say that I was watching a recorded talk by Jane Goodall, including a question and answer session afterwards as I relaxed this afternoon after a 5-mile Turkey Trot this morning.

I continue to be impressed with Jane, both because of her amazing work with conservation and chimpanzee behavior, but also in her practicality, her devotion to nature conservation and the well-being of the underprivileged, and her honesty.

Interesting things I learned about Jane from her Oct. 11th talk included: her favorite drink is whiskey, when asked about her plans in the next 50 years she said "me dying", and she brews her coffee with a boiling coil and stocking hose.

I will never forget growing up watching her National Geographic specials and she has done so many great things to benefit understanding of animals and the behavioral sciences. Good luck in your future endeavors, Jane Goodall.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pepsi Refresh

As if the HSUS really needed any more money, they've now signed up for a community renewal grant through PepsiCo and are receiving the most votes for receiving $250,000 which they don't really need. They are potentially going to absorb this money into their much larger budget when it could legitimately make a bigger difference in the hands of someone truly interested in bettering their community. Just like the Animal Agriculture Alliance, I encourage you to register to vote (doesn't take long) and vote often for more deserving causes on Pepsi's website.

If you go to $250,000 range and look at the leaders, HSUS is leading over 2 much more legitimate and needing organizations trying to improve treatment and cures for serious childhood diseases. Don't be fooled by the lies HSUS is propagating. Vote, to show that you are not fooled.

It is important to note that PepsiCo is not supporting HSUS. They are trying to spread goodwill and money to people that can use it. HSUS is just trying to cheat the system and get some more free money.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fighting Hunger

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year. Fall is in full swing, the harvest is mostly in, and family can take some time off to spend together. Of course, the critters still need fed and there are always chores to do, but it's a time to celebrate the products of our industriousness. Farmers do so much to feed Americans and other people around the world and this is also a time to be thankful for their efforts and success in the past year and to pray for the same in the years to come. Agriculture has made great progress towards feeding the world but we are still a long way away from the final goal of feeding everyone.

As we celebrate the bountiful plenty many of us have come to take for granted here in the US, there are millions going hungry or wondering where their next meal will come from. Millions, even in the US. So as I sit here, dreaming about Thanksgiving break and preparing to head into the business of the holiday, I am especially thankful for the hard work of farmers and those involved in agriculture because of all the hard work they put in towards developing new and better ways to feed more people. Without their hard work we wouldn't be making the progress we are making towards feeding the hungry in our own communities or those around the world who struggle with food shortages.

Stabenow

Big news for all you Michigananians up North. Your very own Stabenow has become chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Now, before you groan like I know most of you are, don't forget that Stabenow does realize she hails from a big agricultural state and that this might be her chance to save her reelection the next time around. She also wanted me informed on my visit with her office in DC last year that she realized how important agriculture was to America. Honestly, I had much better interaction with Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas on that same visit, but the people have spoken and she will not remain in office. Undoubtedly Stabenow will have huge influence on the upcoming farmbill and other projects. We can only hope it will be positive, unlike the actions of her fellow politician Granholm, and will support the beneficial future of farmers nationwide.

Monday, November 22, 2010

New York City is Thankful

In consideration of this week being Thanksgiving, I just thought I would include this video on the blog from the Agriculture Alliance group on Facebook.



If you think about it, feeding 155 people on average with your efforts must be a rewarding thought. Thank you to America's farmers for your hard work in keeping this nation and others fed.

Gateway to Animal Welfare Updates

Quite the busy day in my inbox for Animal Welfare updates as I had 2 weeks worth of "Gateway to Animal Welfare" articles to sort through. I'll start today with some continuations of previous discussions, including the well-being of cage-free birds and their feet.

Of course, Wayne Pacelle and his cronies continue to push cage-free systems as the only way to go for the future of egg production. As you recall, this included Kraft moving to 1,000,000 of its eggs being produced by cage-free chickens. Before you praise them though, go ahead and figure that that's really only 3,000 chickens. The big question here though is whether or not these 3,000 chickens will really receive any better lifestyle in their future environment. One thing to definitely consider is this new research stating that 40% of cage-free hens will suffer from foot diseases, which are much more readily prevented in a caged system. Things to ponder...

Also, of interest, the arrival of a new mega-dairy on the scene. I can understand that people think that animals lose the personal attention on a large farm, but if handled correctly, a large farm really just means ability to pay for more experienced and well-trained employees who can responsibly give even better care for their animals.

And finally some beginning research on hen-pecking from my Erasmus school in the Netherlands.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Domino's Cheese

Other colleagues of mine will no doubt address the factual failures of the ignorant article such as what Nicole had to say about it. However, I wanted to make a couple of informal points of my own with this New York Times cheesephobia article.

First off, I love cheese. I love to eat cheese and I don't personally have a limit to how much cheese I eat; I just can't say no. Confident that I'm not the only one in this situation, I still do not blame the government for my inability to say no to one more slice of cheese-loaded pizza. Either you buy the pizza or you don't. Either you eat more than you should, or you don't. But it's not the fault of anyone else how much you eat or how healthy or unhealthy what you eat is. That's the joy of paying for your medical bills. It all comes back to work out one way or another and if I want to eat a lot of cheese, thanks for the warning, but I knew and still plan to do it.

Second, cheese is good for you. There are nutrients in cheese that you need (including the ever deficient Calcium which frankly, however you get your kids to eat it is great), and the fats in cheese are better for you than the other fats you're subjecting yourself to in junk foods. I ate loads of cheese every day when I lived in the Netherlands, but that doesn't mean that I gained weight because of the cheese. If I had only been eating good foods like vegetables, breads, meats and cheeses, I would've been much healthier.

Thirdly, did you ever have the old Domino's Pizza? It was awful. This new stuff is good, and I like it. You should try it. They have raised the bar, and for that, they should be proud, as well as the DMI for whatever their part to play in it was.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hastings Dairy

If you have a minute or two and are curious about what a dairy farm really looks like when not criminalized and propagandized by animal rights activists, take a look at this video. I've been on a lot of dairy farms and can say that this video is an accurate representation of how dairy farmers strive to care for their animals. The great new facilities are a plus too, but this is a good video to watch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pigs dead in Pennsylvania

This news just crossed my dashboard - approximately 1000 pigs found dead on an abandoned farm in Pennsylvania. So unlike most people I went searching for more reputable reporting. Trouble is, I couldn't find sites that we were actually reputable reporting this incident. I doubt it's a simple as mainstream media being too distracted by other stories, but maybe there's still some people holding out for the truth. Regardless, this headline is horrific and I can't avoid sharing my thoughts about it.

As irrational as most of the sites reporting this discovery seemed to be, including blogs by such names as "Barking Moonbat" and the National Examiner, I still think this is something that should be investigated fully. If this man is guilty of animal abuse or neglect, I fully support his prosecution and punishment. This is shameful, and nearly as shameful are the ignorant remarks of the real estate agent.

How could you be selling a facility you've never looked at? Especially one valued at well over a million dollars. If you were selling a house, you'd have check to see if drugs or a dead body were in it, how is this any different? I have to wonder if she didn't assume control of the place and just never bother to check and see if there were animals alive in the barn. Now that that's a moot point, I'd also like to know how she had no idea that there were nearly a thousand dead pigs on the place. That had to smell horrific, yet she said she expected there were animals dead around the place since it was a farm and never bothered to check any further than that. Ridiculous!!!

And then there is the debate about the animals being killed by a disease breakout. This really is possible, which is why farmers go to such lengths to keep their barns closed to outsiders, especially in the case of pigs and chickens. They aren't trying to hide something but rather are trying to protect their animals from killer diseases that strike faster than a flu epidemic and kill with vicious efficiency. Where I struggle with accepting this as a disease outbreak though is that the animals aren't disposed of. If that many animals had died of disease, somebody would've known about it and the bodies would've been taken care of to prevent further future spread of this disease.

The end story is that this is awful, if true, regardless of the cause. Further, investigators have a long way to go before they find the fault behind this huge incident and idiotic opinionated dimwits aren't helping with the progress of the investigations. Sit tight, wait and see what they find out.

New alliance

This past week marked the start of yet another organization to protect and promote the US Farmer/Rancher. The goal of the group to be a consistent and strong message to consumers and other groups, hopefully this will be the start a successful alliance on behalf of farmers and ranchers nationwide. Time will tell.

Annual Animal Welfare Symposium

This post serves as my shout-out for the 2nd Annual Animal Welfare Symposium at OSU. This symposium is in a great facility that I helped fundraise to build, and will be attended by and led by some great people in the national/international debate on proper animal welfare. Open-minded discussion can only lead to a better understanding between people, of the world around us and our future, so if you have an interest in learning about what is going on right now, follow the links and register for the symposium. This is not an opportunity to come and argue your opinion; this is a chance to learn. If you don't have interest in that, then don't bother registering.

My challenge to State News

It seems like all of Columbus is in a hurry today to get around and get stuff done. An hour before our own parking lot usually fills up, I already was barely able to get a spot. This busyness includes me today, as I try to catch up on blog ideas I had to postpone yesterday in the stead of a funeral and an awards reception.

I'd like to start off today with a challenge to the State News. I know that basketball season is taking the highlight, including Delvon Roe's double performance yesterday which is remarkable and wonderful, but was it necessary to close comments to specific past articles such as the ongoing animal welfare debate? The closing of comments is just one more example of your unwillingness to allow free speech and expression of the opinions of your readers.

Per the comment of one your readers on the site, I had been searching for documentation from their own opinion leaders to contradict the argument presented. Sure enough, HSUS themselves discuss in their chicken cage welfare paper (28 pages with over a hundred references which I bet they thought nobody would read) the fact that chicken pecking behavior was found to be genetic. Thus, the cannibalism debated on the State News article is in fact present in most flocks, regardless of the housing systems which were suggested superior in discussion. So if you don't take it from me, take it from your own and realize that there is really a reason we call it a "pecking order". Find your place in it and shut your mouth.

Thus stems my challenge to State News. You have a few good writers on your staff who have shown willingness to support the media underdogs. Let them explore the truth and be what you should've been all along since you're supported by all kinds of readers; objectively report and leave subjectivism to the editorial column which should be open to both sides of an argument.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back from Louisville


Today marks Day 1 back from one of my favorite shows in the world and I wish I didn't have to dive back into reality. Helping/observing my sister and brother getting ready for the National Junior Shropshire Show was a great learning experience for me whose minimal sheep experience stood in stark contrast to what my siblings have learned in a few short years. Luckily, with my first aid experience to repair my sister's finger, and Amanda's previous sheep knowledge, we were able to contribute to the show placings which are proof of the visible improvement in our family flock over the past few years. With rams placing 4th and 9th, and a ewe placing 9th in a large class, we are gearing up for next year now and our first sale in Eaton next spring. Hopefully this also includes new facilities on the homestead to accommodate the growing numbers of sheep on our place. Then hopefully we will start seeing return on investments although that was not the obvious first intention when we started showing sheep but it'd be nice to pay for the hobby.

While we were down there, I also saw something else which I thought I'd comment on. A girl took 2 of her sheep out on a walk in the grass behind the sheep area and was having a terrible time getting these sheep to move in the right direction. Compounding the problem was an air traffic landing pattern just above her that scared the sheep every time a plane came in low to land. What shocked me was how forceful and aggressive she became toward the sheep over the course of her difficult walk. By the end, we had even seen her kick the lambs a few times.

Now, I'm not saying this because I want the girl fined, or her show rights revoked or to publicly humiliate her (although she could use a little learning from the experience). She is young and the action is more concerning than the damage, but she is learning from someone. What I'm trying to do is call out to those older individuals to be positive role models in your treatment of animals. Youth look up to you to follow rules and to exhibit a high level of moral conduct both at the shows and at home on the farm. Not only are youth looking up to you, but the consumer also looks to you for your leadership in the way you treat the animals raised for food. They want to know that you care as much about your animals as you profess to, and as long as there are people out there making mistakes, consumer trust will be challenging to keep. Be a good example to those around you, both older and younger to care for your animals as you were taught so that consumers will continue to trust us. People are always watching; make sure you are glad about what they can see.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Puppies

I don't blog daily, but when I catch a lucky break, I can throw a few blogs together to summarize what I've been thinking about and doing for the last few days. Since I knocked out my biochem exam yesterday morning, there has been a feeling of tremendous relief in me. So let's talk about what I think about puppies and get beyond how cute they are.


Puppies seem to just control people's minds, more girls than guys. We talked in the class that I TA about the eye placement in puppies being very similar to a baby's eyes; thus, people are even more attached instantly to them. I don't think there's a day I don't hear someone cooing over a little dog (even if it isn't actually a puppy) and talking about how cute it is. This now goes for my wife as well. So now we're in the process of finding a dog, which leads me to this blog post.

Finding dogs, easy. There's millions out there for adoption. Picking a dog can be just a little harder. You need to find a dog with the energy level and size that matches your living conditions. If you have kids or other pets, or even livestock, it's important to consider what types of interactions you want and will allow between your new dog and these. And it's also important to remember how expensive keeping a dog really is. Between the vet costs, the food, and the time you spend with them, they can greatly impact your lifestyle in a bad way if you're not really ready for one. This is one of the biggest concerns for me when people say they are looking for or buying a dog. If you aren't ready to get one, then wait, because the lifestyle they are subjected should matter to you if you care for your dog.

Now to the heart of my blog post. I know you might feel bad taking away your dog's manhood or the hope of raising a litter some day, but it is really important to spay or neuter your pet. Help prevent compounding the present problem in the US and elsewhere. Otherwise you'll end up with more than you can handle, and speaking from experience with barn cats, there are only so many you can give away. "Fixing" your pet will also lead them to a happier lifestyle and a better relationship with you because the hormones and the habits associated with intact pets are typically reduced by the process.

That being said, I also fully support adopting "mutts". Scientifically speaking, the crossing of breeds combined with the survivability of these animals that have already struggled through life on their own or in adverse conditions and then ended up in the local shelter will result in an active and more healthy animal in the long-run most often. There are so many pets up for adoption, I can't imagine that you can't find exactly what you want if you look hard enough. The problem that we are in right now is that so many people want to buy a dog with papers or from a puppy place that now there is over-production of these animals which then also end up in the shelter because their producers can't sell or get rid of all of the extra puppies they make.

If you're looking for a new pet, help one in need. Adopt.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Unconstitutional Prop 2?

So I figure that headline ought to have caught your attention by now, but what I'd really like to do here is make a small concession towards HSUS, and here's why.

Regardless of whether or not California decides that Prop 2 is unconstitutional, regardless of how much money HSUS deceived out of unwitting animal shelter donors, regardless of how badly this proposition is written, and the fact that because it is so poorly written Prop 2 itself will not likely help animals enjoy increased well-being, this proposition and its supporters helped bring to the forefront something that has been lurking in our midst for a long time now. Sure, PETA and other more radical groups have done a lot to bring attention to animals and the rights movement, but HSUS really grabbed attention in a more forceful manner by making us campaign, vote and decide on how animals should be raised in a food production system.

I'm not condoning HSUS's actions or endorsing their organization. Far from it, I consider them to be the biggest economic threat to livestock producers right now. They are willing to lie, create legislation and spend millions of dollars in advertising just to cram their end-point agenda of no animal product consumption down our throats. But what I am trying to say is that in the process of being the enemy, they have done the livestock industry a great service by making us re-consider and re-evaluate the possibilities of better systems for producing food in terms of animal welfare. This is one change that can't be re-traced even if we determine that Prop 2 is unconstitutional or if we further undermine all of HSUS's progress over the past 5 years. Thus the above article is really irrelevant in the long run.

HSUS and their associated groups have helped forced us into a new age, where we have to speak up for ourselves and defend our practices, because we are under fire by a larger and more powerfully politically aligned organization. They have brought us to a point where we will need to re-vamp our processes in a more holistic manner in order to bring our industrial considerations of animal welfare up to a new level in order to ensure consumer confidence. In the end, what people really want to know is that we've taken the best care of the animals that we could, ensuring them a healthy lifestyle and a suffering-free death.

Were we abusing animals on farms, or will animal abuse stop once new regulations and researched facilities are put into place across the U.S.? No. Farmers were not nor are they abusing their animals, rather, they are caring for them as they best know how. Nor will those rare cases of abuse stop with regulation or new research. There are crooks and bad cases in every industry and these people will continue to both arise and be sorted out throughout generations.


No, the difference as we move forward into the future is that animal welfare has now become critically more important to big industry players who request that we can prove that what we do is better for the animals than other options presented. It has brought increased institute attention and funding on potential research to further improve our understanding of what animals need and how we can best provide for them. These are things that farmers want to know, but now the formalized industry is more focused on it. This is all good, and the ball is rolling. Ruling out Prop 2 will not change this.

What we need to do now is continue to improve animal welfare on farms through implementation of ideas as research discovers new viable and practical options. This doesn't happen overnight or with happily worded constitution amendments. The best people to improve the care of animals are the people who know them best from working with them most. Animals will continue to be raised for food as long as we do our best to care for them and provide them an existence free of suffering. Through the research that is going on, we will identify the best options for raising animals and continue to improve them in the future so that farmers can keep doing what they do best: raising the food that fills your plate and provides valuable nutrition every day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pennycress


This summer when I was compiling biofuel information, I couldn't even find any reading material on this plant that didn't talk about how to kill it. In fact, when I put together the summary article, I mostly talked about what things we knew about it as a weed. Now, it's touted as a great biofuel alternative for the future. Some of these things change faster than we know how to keep up with them.

More interesting might be the fact that my suggested link on my Gmail sidebar as I read the ARS e-newsletter was "Where to buy sulfuric acid". Awesome.

My experience with horses last week (duplicate post)

Let me just tell you a story about animals and farming from my own life today.

We keep a few cattle around the place (the Bale compound). The purpose of these animals at some point was to raise show calves to sell to 4-H'ers and other kids who show at fairs. But as I moved off to college and the sheep became a bigger and now more successful part of our farm we've moved most of our efforts to raising sheep. Let's just say the cows haven't gotten a lot of interaction the past year or so.

We've got 3 cows out in the field; Joy is definitely the mother figure in the bunch which is lucky for us because she is a greedy pig when it comes to food and she is also tame around people. She wouldn't hurt you intentionally, or at least not without warning. Kiko and Bubbles are a bit more tricky, but following Joy, it didn't take long to trick all three of them into the pasture behind the barn where my cousin keeps her horse. This is where it gets complicated. We just needed to get some heat detection patches on them.

Horses and cattle inherently just don't get along. It's like Dems and Republicans. It's bred into them and they haven't a care in the world for each other, unless they can both get fat at the same party. But horses being bigger like to pick on cattle and push them around. This is a problem when we're moving cattle around, especially through a horse pen. Let's not be fooled, Joy is easily near a ton in weight, but since the horse is taller, she's still programmed to flee because she doesn't like being picked on. With the gate open for the cattle, who were scared of the horse but hungry for the feed I had my hand on the horse's head pushing her away when broke into just a few steps of trot with my hand still against her.

I can't say whether she meant to kick me before she broke into the trot or she decided to after I still didn't move, but my general policy is not to run away from animals. It has worked out positively more often than not and I settled into this attitude once I became too big to cross a fence in under 2 seconds anymore. Most of what an animal does is for show purposes to frighten you, but this time she wasn't joking.

I saw the kick coming before it happened. She hit that right front leg hard and the muscles rippled down her back so I had enough time to bring my right arm around to block what I expected to be a kick in the face. I would really hate to lose my teeth. Because I was planning to block with my forearm, I got kicked in the elbow as I realized she was going after my rib cage instead. Even with the kick deflected by my elbow, I absorbed the blunt impact in the rib cage and I can't really remember if I fell, was knocked over or just slowly collapsed to the ground. All I can remember at that point was knowing that the horse had run off and I had cows loose that needed in, and that I couldn't breathe at all.

I've done stupid things like riding a sled face first downhill on a ramp, and knocked the wind clean out of me. This wasn't the same. For half a minute there, I couldn't get breaths in, but I could see Amanda freeze in her place, and Mom moving the horse. Every heartbeat was wild pain while my chest ripped with every breath. Stretching out on the ground helped ease the pain and breathing. I think the adrenaline from something like that always acts as my first level pain reducer because I just wanted the job done at that point and didn't think again about how much I hurt until afterward.

Am I sore now, 5 days later? Sure, I'm sore, but I think that laying there on the ground a minute and taking it easy the whole next couple of days helped speed my recovery. I can't quite unbend my elbow and basketball will be a bit challenging for a while, but I'm still able to think about playing again next week, so at this point I'm obviously not in that bad of shape. I had just finally started healing up the bruised bone I had in my rib area from some foolhardiness in the past, so it's going to be sore for a while, but sparing some sparring competition with Tony, I should be just fine. Nothing broken and limited bone bruising on my elbow and lower ribs/sternum seems like a small price to pay for getting out of that one.

It all goes to show how unpredictable animals can be and why people who have little or no experience around animals should be extra careful in their mannerisms near animals. Animals can often mistake what you're trying to do, it even happens to me and I've been working with them since we moved back to Ohio. Talk about misunderstandings, I have definitely come a long way since those days, but there is no behavior problem with animals (or humans) that couldn't stand a little patience in the solution. Accidents happen; this is just one more to chalk off to God having some better plan for my future. I can honestly say that I have only been kicked by a horse once before, in the head, but the difference was that kick was unintentional or it would've done serious damage, whereas this was grumpy and malicious.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

State News

Short blog today regarding my friends at MSU and the frustrations they continue to endure caused by a campus newspaper that absolutely fails to be objective on the issue of animal agriculture. I think nobody would mind that as much if students weren't forced to pay a subscription to the paper that in turn verbally scathes the major studied by some of its mandatory subscribers.

I encourage you to read the article, then to dig up Joel's original column, as well as following the comments below the article I linked.

I sent some brief comments to MSU regarding the news article today and I confess to spending relatively little time editing them but it's a busy day so you'll have to forgive me. Here's my thoughts:

"Phil and associates,

"I can understand your concern about animal suffering. Farmers share this concern which is why it does not in fact happen. Animals are humanely raised, above and beyond government regulations in most cases, and are also humanely slaughtered with researched methods that prevent the feeling of pain prior to death.

"Some parts of a farm animals life can be painful, but again, in accordance with the law, these conditions of painful existence cannot be prolonged into what you would term suffering. Research has shown stress and pain indicators to diminish shortly after painful procedures which you cite such as castration, and tail and teeth clipping. The animal certainly does not remember the experience, nor are they experiencing a continued sensation of pain. Accusing farmers of causing animals to suffer is greatly similar to whining about a doctor being abusive for administering your once in a lifetime vaccinations.

"As was agreed by PETA VP (what was his name?) during his visit last fall, even more personal inflictions of painful surgical procedures are not remembered by humans, nor are they remembered by animals which is made obvious by their ongoing observed interactions with people over their lifetime. We are not talking about animal abuse here, which farmers do not condone or participate in. We are talking about the regulated and required health-related procedures which ensure an animal’s healthy existence in this world as they grow and eventually serve their purpose to provide food for Americans and those in less fortunate countries.

"I am personally involved in the worldwide research to improve the living environment of animals through their housing and social stimulation. However, this research takes time so that we can find effective ways to raise healthy animals for the public while improving the environment they live in. This is to avoid the mistake of building costly, “trendy” systems that truly don’t benefit the animals in the long run. Be patient because you’re not being ignored.

"Joel probably did not mention a necessity to give livestock antibiotics to stay alive because there is rarely a necessity to give animals antibiotics. In fact, there’s rarely a necessity to give humans antibiotics as well. If you would prefer to suffer through a secondary respiratory infection, or worse, accumulating scar tissue that will inhibit your ability to function for the rest of your life then please suggest to your doctor not to prescribe you antibiotics as well. Farmers care about their animals, and so they make sure that they give them what it takes to live healthy lives.

"The reason that farmers give their animals antibiotics is also not because the housing facilities are poorly designed. On the contrary, the ventilation, cleanliness and air quality in most “commercialized” layer barns is far better than in other systems which you imply would be more desirable, such as free-range or cage-free systems. If you don’t believe me, look at some research literature or actually visit some real farms.

"Finally, don’t even get me started on the supposed environmental hazard that animals pose to the world. Animals today represent just a small portion of what the world has to be concerned about in the way of environmental impact. Consider for example the fact that in America we produce over 1.2 billion pounds of garbage every day whereas the livestock industry produces 0.8 million pounds of waste per day. Then further consider that farmers recycle almost all of that waste to reduce the use of fertilizer on your vegetable crops that you consume. After you figure out what happens to the 1.2 billion pounds of human waste, let me know, because I’m pretty sure it is not being recycled and we are stuck with that figure for life. Animal agriculture is not the headline polluter that you claim it is."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

BEEF JBS article

I just want to make sure that I draw my readers' attention to the JBS article in BEEF Magazine which was also featured in the Agriculture Proud blog which is on the sidebar of my own blog. Ryan digs up some good reading and puts great thoughts into words on his blog so I again highly suggest reading it.

Anyhow, from my own conservative semi-rural background, I had trouble accepting JBS when I was first learning about it because what it seemed like was a company just had a lot of money and was buying out the American beef industry. While they have made some large purchases here in the US, it turns out that as they discuss in this article JBS started very small. Read the article, like I did, and you'll gain a new appreciation for the hard-working values that JBS was founded on which represent the values of hard-working American farmers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trent Loos - Hormones Video

This needs little explanation. Watch the video.

PS (6.16.2011) Video was removed by owner, so I removed the embed. Trent Loos has stimulating input on the hormones discussion as you will see if you read through other blog posts of mine on here. There are so many larger contributing factors to early puberty than a little hormone treatment in beef could ever pose. I encourage you to also check out LoosTales for other interesting topics discussed by Trent Loos.

Combating obesity and the red meat myth


First off, props to Mayor Bloomberg of New York City for his efforts to have sugar drinks banned from the acceptable list of food stamp purchases. It's not that I'm looking for those people on food stamps to suffer the lack of those luxury foods/drinks that most of us crave at some point or another. This represents a great opportunity for a step towards taking back the obesity issue from its current status of out-of-control. The government has itself in a hole where it provides food stamps to citizens who then purchase unhealthy foods with the stamps, thereby leading a higher number back into the necessity for increased government sponsored healthcare. This idea of using food stamps to provide healthier food products should be accompanied by educational tools for people on how to balance their diets for nutritional optimization but limiting the procurement of unhealthy sugar drinks is certainly a start in the right direction. Personally, I can say I lost weight just when I stopped drinking pop every day. It's good for me and can be good for you too.

Hand in hand with this is the topic of red meat consumption which always comes up in nutritional debates and is my main justification for this blog today. Red meat is always catching flak from its opponents ranging from PETA to registered dieticians to talk show hosts. The link I included above is just one example of an article designed to convince consumers to eat less red meat. Well, I'll let someone more qualified than myself justify the truth of the article and its "research" but I can tell you that I am skeptical of this study just like I am skeptical of so many others. People are voluntarily recruited for this study, are expected to actually be honest in their questionaires, and are expected to accurately keep records of their eating habits. This is not a controlled study and so much can go wrong. You should also be careful to note that although they blame red meat in the report, the study actually lumped both red meat and processed meat in the same bin. Of course, if I'm eating bologna or McDonald's every day of my life, I'm probably not expected to survive as long as someone who is cooking meat in their own home. Red meat wasn't killing people who made wholesome meals in their home and shared them with family and friends.


This isn't about shoving an agenda about the lack of family values or a pro-carnivore attitude down your throat. This is about making sure you consider the facts, and the factors and variables that can impact the value of a research study that claims you should limit your red meat consumption. I can bet you that the people in the study might have eaten at least 4 oz of red meat or processed meat a day, but it doesn't say whether they also maybe had days of 15 and 20 oz of red and processed meats packed in there too.

If you're a big eater like me, you'll be depressed the first, second and third time that you measure out how much you're eating, but take my word for it that portion sizing can make the biggest difference for you. Red meat is still fine for you; there's no true proof out there that it is bad for most people. Yet, there is definitely proof out there though that if you eat 3x as much as you should (including red and processed meats) that you will become overweight and possibly obese, and increase your risks for a lot of different diseases. The same holds true for you if you have already existing risk conditions and then try to eat red and processed meats every day - bad idea.

Simple take-home message here. Portion sizes will do wonders. Butter used to be "bad" for us, but now it's much better than most alternatives. Eggs used to be bad for us, but if you can manage your cholesterol, the eggs are a proven brain boost. Claims that red meat itself is bad for you are difficult to prove. I'm not going to stop eating it anytime soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Because I care"

Congratulations to the Fort Laramie FFA for their winning entry in the OFBF "Because I care" video contest. The link for the video is included in the article and as the only video I watched during the voting, I can assure you they did a great job on it.

Animals in surgery practice

I can honestly say that I understand the viewpoint expressed in today's Farm Sanctuary blog. I posted a few thoughts of my own underneath that...

Just a thought, but the stress and pressure put on a medical surgeon during a real surgery where actual lives are at stake cannot be compared with any simulation. This is the same reason that pilots have to log actual flying hours before they are allowed to have their pilots license and independently operate planes.

I'm not justifying one viewpoint or the other on this issue (rare for me) but I am saying it's worth considering the benefit that live animal surgeries have for surgeons' confidence and skill improvement before they have to operate on you. There's nothing quite like hearing someone had a correspondence course or a simulated experience to prepare them for your life or death situation.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

By-products


This is an interesting drawing of the uses of a cow in order to illustrate the point that there is nearly impossible to claim to not use animal products in your life (aka. vegan). For those of you who don't know all the things that a cow can provide to us if we are efficient and less wasteful in our use of animals, this should be very educational.

Antibiotics again

As we continue the eternal discussion and debate of antibiotic use in animals and humans, not the quote from this article as Brazil struggles against an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that sadly is killing people in hospitals there. There is a similar outbreak in the US, and I have included many article links for you to read. However, nowhere in the article do they blame the outbreak on the use of antibiotics in animal feed. Not because this is a pro-animal news source, no, this is because it is a minor ingredient in the pot of issues that is brewing up trouble for the medical world. If the small use of antibiotics in feedstuffs for animals was the problem, then the antibiotic-resistant bugs would not be reported originating in patients traveling from the Middle-east and Asia. These are not countries known for heavy use of antibiotics in livestock. No, this is a far-reaching case of antibiotic abuse in people in countries with weak regulations on antibiotic access. Brazil was even selling them without prescriptions and here in the US they're free.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Humane Watch Ad


I don't actually subscribe to Humane Watch's blog even though I recommend it because they put out so many things that it would absolutely flood my dashboard with updates. Instead I like to read back through their postings from time to time so that I can sort through to the very best ones. That is when I stumbled onto their HSUS challenge countdown. Well, more like, since they don't expect the challenge to end it's really a count up.

What is does is count the number of days, hours, etc., since they issued the challenge to Wayne Pacelle's HSUS to share 50% of their fundraising with actual shelters rather than using it for their own propaganda agendas. Well, since they are not currently near this percentage, the clock will probably continue for a long time. But Humane Watch has put the pressure on again with a full-page ad in the New York Times which I featured here in my blog today.

You might ask how spending money on ads to complain about HSUS falsely spending money on ads seems hypocritical. Why not just fundraise for the shelters? Well, the local animal shelters are struggling for money and help and if these ads can make people aware that they are sending their money to the wrong people, then there will be a greater improvement made in the well-being of animals and the efficiency of shelters through this advertising. This is why the advertising is dissimilar from the lies championed by Wayne Pacelle about how much good they are doing for the animals of the world. Even their legislative victories have not always served in the best interest of animals, laying bare the intent behind this "non-profit" group. They are out to end livestock agriculture and the human consumption of animal products. How far will you let them go before you speak out and tell them what you think?

USEF Stallion Magazine


USEF is publishing a stallion-oriented magazine edition and to get people started on advertising within their magazine, they used this ad? Honestly the idea of a sire type magazine for horses isn't something new and is a valuable help to those who are doing a lot of shopping for their breeding program. Yet, how do you expect them to take you seriously or for the advertisers to take you seriously with an ad like this? Of course, if you are interested then contact advertising at the USEF.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Turkey pardoning

Another post from Gene Baur today, outlining general ideas of bliss that makes him sound just like every other political ad right now on the TV. I've given up believing he will ever post my comments or respond to my questions. It's hard to force myself to use correct grammar anymore in my comments since I know they will always go to waste. But just in case, here was one more today...

Gene,

I thought today it would just be good if you outlined what truly happens to those turkeys which you "save". Are they "healthier"? Are they allowed to exhibit normal behaviors such as reproduction and fighting? How do you control overpopulation and disease? Or do you force the turkeys to live as you want them to exist, making you out to be the hypocrite?

Thanks,

-Benjamin

Antibiotic resistance continued

I had briefly discussed antibiotics in feed for animals on production farms and concerns that people had about building up antibiotic resistant strains that will later impact the human population. My take on it was that the misuse of antibiotics in our society among humans is far worse than any damage we might imagine is occurring from the livestock sector. To further emphasize my point, read this article about the US senate committee's trip to Denmark and the take-aways they have about the feed antibiotic ban there. A sharp increase in antibiotic resistant "bugs" without being used on animals anymore should definitely be a warning sign to the doubters out there that we have bigger problems than farmers who a responsibly caring for their livestock.

Milk producers behind the times

I'm currently trying to correct a huge publishing error on Blogger.com which merged 2 of my blogs together into something less than intelligible. Hopefully this works...

I know this is one of the more controversial subjects that I touch on, but the Gateway to Animal Welfare has once again uploaded discussion about tail docking dairy cows and it is time people realized that this is an issue which simply isn't going away.


Tail docking
started in New Zealand in the 1960's as a way of limiting urine splash onto milkers' faces and thus preventing the spread of leptospirosis to dairy farmers, presumably passed from bovine to human. As it turns out, further research by Mackintosh in the 1980's found that the incidence of Leptospirosis is much stronger correlated to previous worker health and their exposure to rodents while on the job.


That being said, the question presumably follows, "Why are we still docking cows?". Well, the assumptions began to stack up that docked cows would be cleaner around their udder, healthier (less mastitis), and would be producing a higher quality milk. Research since has proven none of these to be true. In fact, not only is there little discernible improvement in the health of cows or the quality of milk, but the cows are further prevented from avoiding flies since they have lost the ability to swat them with their tails as found by Eicher in 2000-2002.

Folks, this research is nearly 10 years old and yet we have made minimal steps towards ending tail docking as a practice in the US dairy industry. You know that I'm an advocate of the dairy industry and livestock agriculture but this is a concerning subject to me. The debate should not be on whether or not the docking is harming the animals. Since this is not providing any gain to the farmer beyond milker relief from tails (which can also be aided by trimming switches), then why are we going to the effort to remove tails from cows that can put them to good use and will be able to retain their natural appearance. This is far different from the case of sheep which will suffer diseases with an intact tail. Dairy cows need their tail and we aren't getting a thing out of taking it off. It's time that the national dairy industry and organizations supporting them begin serious discussions about voluntarily removing this as an industry practice before someone from the outside comes in and makes it happen like they did in California.

It's up to us to be responsible for caring for our animals. If we don't take charge, someone less knowledgeable will take it away from us.