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


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...


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?



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 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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ODA Civil Penalties for Welfare Violations

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board met and finished the released draft of their proposed civil penalties for livestock neglect and abuse. I read through the draft and am impressed by the timeliness of this released document as well as the increased stringency of the proposed fines and punishment. Hopefully these proposed penalties will be enough to deter those farmers who potentially would give a bad name to the rest of farmers doing a good job of caring for their animals in Ohio.

ARS updates

I had planned to include some Gateway to Animal Welfare news articles from last week which were very interesting but access to them is currently limited due to a server problem on their end. Look for these in the future, as well as an uploaded powerpoint with a link embedded so that you can view my summer presentation related to the dairy taildocking debate.

In the meantime, please enjoy the bi-weekly ARS e-newsletter updates.

First is an article related to the increase in Canola being planted in the Pacific Northwest. After my spring and summer employment with MSU extension and the work I put into biofuel research lit reviews, I can honestly say that Canola oil does show great potential as an up and coming biodiesel fuel alternative. This is also a really pretty crop as I noticed when we overseas in the Salisbury area of England. The question will be whether it can be more environmentally friendly in the long-run than other energy alternatives. Wind energy certainly hasn't held up to the expectations held for it.

As Menhaden fish meal becomes in shorter supply and thus higher prices, ARS is also involved in research to feed more plant-based diets to fish on fish farms. Besides the supply aspect and sustainability concerns, when I research fish meal last year and its use as a feedstuff, it was unbelievable to me how expensive it was as a source of protein and specific amino and fatty acids in a diet. It might be a great feedstuff for diet balancing but it is just too expensive to be used in the quantities it was being used in.

Alltech's World Equestrian Games were also deemed highly successful as they came to a close after 16 days with over 0.5 million people in attendance over the span of the games. USA did pretty well with 8 medals in the events as well. I would've loved to have gone. I've heard about it at the Alltech booths for the last couple of years, but there is just so much to do this time of year and driving down to Lexington just couldn't be tacked on to life right now.

With increasing concerns about the E. Coli contamination and subsequent illnesses, the USDA-FSIS is now requiring inspectors and ground beef producers to specify the origin of the beef so that traceback on contaminated supplies will be faster and reduce illness.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Humane Watch

As you can see, I've added a 3rd blog to read on the sidebar of my own blog. Humane Watch has consistently come up with revealing, data-backed posts related to the lies propagated by the HSUS. I suggest you read their blog occasionally to catch up on the items they are able to uncover with their increasing scope and budget. This includes their recent post about the relative size of HSUS membership compared with other even more radical and absurd organizations.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Manure production

Gene Baur pushed my limit today with his blog entry. I have a short fuse because Mabel stopped running this morning and I'm liable to not take anti-livestock agriculture sentiments well today.

My apologies, but my blog comment will be a summary instead. Gene, you spend so much time trying to pin livestock agriculture as the proverbial tail on a donkey of fault for the world's problems. You'd probably do better if you weren't distracted by the ass in your own mirror.

It didn't take me long to find some reputable information about the waste produced in the US. 4 lbs. every day x 300.000.000 people in the US adds up to a lot of waste every day. The waste production is a much larger problem than that of manure production in the US, besides the fact that manure is recycled by farmers whereas garbage is just dumped. Per a news article this summer about the mess the Mississippi River is experiencing, and topped by a slight BP spill this summer, I think Gene is out of turn in accusing the Gulf of Mexico's problems as the fault of livestock agriculture. The gulf has a significant problem, but this is the combined fault of many factors not the least of which is the wastefulness of Americans. Spend your time figuring out how to better reduce and reuse your own impact on the earth and please spend less time pointing fingers at environmentally responsible, governmentally regulated and audited farmers. We are doing our part to feed the world and care for the environment, what are you doing?

Do livestock farmers use a lot of water? Sure, but the water is recycled (something the Columbus Dispatch also conveniently neglected to mention in their despicable article on Sunday). Farmers are some of nature's recyclers and they use their water over and over again to help feed America and the world. Is the same true for that ridiculous oasis in the desert, Las Vegas?

For your mild entertainment I have included a video of some farmers who had a unique approach to telling people about their care for the environment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Duplicate Post (Yeo Valley Farms)

Props to these guys for their unique way of communicating their care for their animals.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fishy News

My most recent ARS e-newsletter was very fish-based, including both an article on feeding fish to fish, and also the benefits of fish for humans. Now, I love eating fish. But I don't love the smell and taste (yes, I've tasted it) of fish meal. What better population to feed fish byproducts to than the ones who already consume fish byproducts naturally: the fish? In small quantities this represents a great opportunity to utilize byproducts to produce food.

In other news, Stephen Colbert branched into agriculture again this past week when he decided to discuss the government crackdown on raw milk sales.

Drew Hastings

Andy's blog was worth the read this past week because it included a video I recommend you watch. It seems to be increasingly popular for urbanites to explore the touted "country lifestyle", much like we traversed the "wild west" back in the 1800's. Drew Hastings is one of these, and as a comedian he serves in much the same way as Stephen Colbert to cast a serious light on agriculture in today's world while entertaining the public. Give up 7 minutes to watch this video.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Arsenicized chicken

Thanks to Ann and Dr. Oz for giving me something to talk about today beyond the boring newsletters. I already sent this in a response email so I'm just going to re-post with links. True to my morals on blogging, I have included links to your own enlightenment opportunities. Not that I wouldn't appreciate you taking my word for it, but reading for yourself is always worth the time when you have it.

Please keep in mind, I was unable to watch the Dr. Oz chicken clip because their website isn't loaded up yet from today, but I can take a stab at breaking things down. "Dr." Oz decided to jump on the bandwagon (or his producers did) and talk about food quality and the sticky topic of feed additives for poultry.

Dr. Oz probably spent a lot of time talking about antibiotics in chicken. Poultry association probably confirmed it because it's true. I can't honestly say that I'm really comfortable feeding steady antibiotics to animals because I come from a veterinary medicine standpoint which fears those outbreaks which are unstoppable due to antibiotic resistance. I also recognize that the FDA doesn't have a solid track record in getting things right.

However, they are our governmental food regulation agency for a reason. The best minds are put onto determining what is safe to eat and what isn't. If people are going to complain, then they need to complain to the agency with the authority to change something, and they need to present facts that are worthy of compelling said agency to change its policy. Those facts don't exist right now and no amount of speculation is going to prove that we are getting antibiotic resistance from chickens any more than they can attempt to prove that beef growth hormones or rBST in milk were changing hormones in humans. Hormones aren't delivered in quantities large enough to impact humans at all. It is my opinion that the same is true for antibiotics fed to animals.

Once the antibiotics are processed by the body and put to the uses that they were intended for, biologically speaking, then they are not going to suddenly appear in your dinner plate contents. I think that the abuse of free antibiotics among human doctors and patients is much more concerning and a far greater contribution the antibiotic resistance scheme than that which is absorbed and utilized in the animal while it is still living.

Consumer reports put out this article recently which Dr. Oz probably referenced. I couldn't even make it a paragraph before I was frustrated by the inadequacy of the intelligence applied to this article. I spent 4 years reading everything known to man about "mad cow disease" before it was even a big deal. I predicted the discovery of mad cow disease in the US over a year before it happened due to faults that I saw in our standards. And even I think it is preposterous to attempt to connect the feeding of ruminant MBM to the possibility of "mad chicken" disease. Furthermore, I looked into arsenic just a bit, and it didn't take me long to find an article from Europe about arsenic levels in food. Not surprising, the highest arsenic level by far and the estimated primary cause of arsenic introduced to humans is through rice. Yet how often do we hear consumer reports talk about rice arsenic? Ironically enough, I'm eating rice for lunch as I write this. Notice also that they found no detectable traces of arsenic in the chicken muscle in the first place. This whole article claims that arsenic in chickens is a problem, but they only found arsenic in the liver and it was less than 25% of the legal limit accepted by the FDA. If this lack of finding was blown out of proportion, how much validity do you expect from the antibiotic feed claims?

They also probably claimed mis-labeling of products which I think is something more of the past than now. People are always trying sell product and whatever they can do to make a dime, they will. This includes new labels which can't always be monitored when the label is being started. That being said, I think organic foods are far worse regulated and more unpredictable right now than any standard poultry industry product. The USDA is still sorting through what "organic" will legally even mean yet it's being sold to ignorant consumers every day. We can't throw any part of agriculture under the bus, including organic producers, but the industry concerns about wholesome food and correct labeling and advertising procedures applies to all farmers and producers just like any other industry.

I think that the key is to remember that we started feeding antibiotics to chickens or pigs in order to promote their health. Farmers have both a moral and financial responsibility to provide healthy lives to their animals and wholesome food to their consumers. They are following the regulations set down before them and in most nearly all cases are going above and beyond regulations to ensure a quality product for the public. The antibiotics have not been proven to be bad for the public and since they are helpful to the animals to reduce sickness-related stress and to improve their well-being, why shouldn't we use them?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ohio Livestock Euthanasia Standards

Today marks a special day in the history of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board as they begin to change their first legislative draft into law. That's right, they've finally finished their first public draft. In retrospect it's becoming more a good idea to have made that deal with HSUS to back off of this fall's ballot initiative since it has take this long just to get anything on paper out of the board. I'm even surprised by how long it has taken them to materialize anything but at least it is hopefully a well-thought and debated piece of paper. Well, more like many pieces of paper. You can read their proposed standards for euthanasia online. Of note, there is not a provision for legal strangulation or hanging of livestock as an approved method of euthanasia, so this stands within the agreement with HSUS from this summer.

Personally, I found everything in that document to be acceptable and to show promise of progress towards better regulated animal well-being in the future. However, these are just the accepted euthanasia practices and we have a long way to go from here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


In my opinion, it is commenting on other people's work and ideas that both challenges and strengthens their positions and arguments. Additionally it is through these challenges that other people are led to make up their own minds about critical issues in the world around us. This leads to a two-fold point on commenting on blogs.

Firstly, it is absolutely vital to comment only with true facts. Too many times there are extremists on either side of the issue who let their feelings get the better of them and then they end up just spouting off a bunch of over-exaggerations which serve only to promote greater intellectual chaos among the new faces to a debate. This is not helpful and can often be even worse than the obvious falsities promoted by extremists in their blogs to start with. If you can't make a point with sure facts and strong arguments, then please don't waste my time by moving your mouth or typing a lot.

Secondly, censored comments have a good ideal at their origin. However, if you over-censor comments such as the Making Hay blog does, then it destroys the point of your article in the first place, that is, if you were actually interested in debate. However, both Wayne Pacelle and Gene Baur have proven time and again that they are not truly interested in debate. It seems that they would rather force their opinion down the throats of intelligent people by first mis-educating the masses about the "truths" that they would like to share about animal agriculture. Is there truth to what they say? Sure, there is some truth to what they say, but not enough.

There must always be truth to something that people will believe, but in a radical rights movement such as theirs, misleading information will propagate their position much quicker and easier than debating facts. The facts would lead too many people to be moderates, thus causing too many people to be willing to work things out between groups. Instead, Pacelle, Baur, and their colleagues use their propaganda to trick people into a much faster ideological movement. The thing about movements is that they run out of time and energy. If you can't find something new to lie about, then you will finally run out of steam. What's amazing is how good HSUS and their groupies have been about coming up with misinformation to keep their groups on the move.

This is where I get back to my second point on commenting. If you have to go to the effort to block my IP address from even loading up the comment option on your blog, doesn't that mean you're scared to discuss the issue with me? It was bad enough when you deleted my comments during the censoring phase, but now you've cut straight to the greater efficiency and stopped me from being able to even submit my comments in the first place.

It's a shame that you're scared of people seeing the other side of an issue. People are smart enough to think for themselves; you don't need to be doing that for them. What's even more shameful is your blatant fear of my comments which have been posted here in my blogs for people to see since they would never be published on your blog. There is no foul language or hate for your organization proposed in my comments; I've even bordered on over-conciliation at times. Yet, you continue to dodge the obviously less-experienced and thus poorer equipped debater of the two of us.

If you're too scared to speak up for what you "believe in", then you'd better find a new cause to support.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Brief updates from my inbox as I run off to lunch with Amanda and then class.

Now that the rBST labeling debate is nearly irrelevant, the legal powers that be have declared form Ohio laws to be overruled. Great?

Also, at Humboldt University in Germany, they have declared that agriculture is being neglected, and "the world is running out of time." Listen up, world leaders, we cannot continue to just expect that agriculture will continue to provide. We must support, and we must support beyond trade sanctions or tax breaks. Agriculture needs protection and investment.