Is All The Industry Buzz Over Animal Welfare Warranted?

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 Is the North American cattle industry attaching too much significance to the animal welfare debate?  Kee Jim, DVM, a founding partner of Feedlot Health Management Services (FHMS) Ltd., in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada, says animal husbandry is an important priority, but doesn’t warrant the amount of industry attention it’s currently generating.

FHMS (www.feedlothealth.com) is a consulting company providing comprehensive heard health programs, veterinary and production consulting services, field veterinary services, and computerized individual animal data recording systems to feedlots throughout western Canada and the U.S.

Discuss this Video 6

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 14, 2012

I think he misses the point. While the animal rights people are not currently going after beef producers, they ARE going after livestock producers. They have already persuaded (coerced?) McDonalds and Walmart, among others, to demand changes in how pigs are raised. If he thinks they will stop there, I believe he is mistaken. While I do believe that if I am doing nothing wrong I have nothing to worry about, I fear that my idea of doing nothing wrong, and that of the animal rights people may be entirely different.
Just remember the old quote--First they came for the communists and I did nothing because I was not a communist...

hutch (not verified)
on Jun 14, 2012

farmers and ranchers historically have had independant personalities, why now are we softening and pandering these jackasses? we should have slammed the door on them years ago

Heather S Beierbach (not verified)
on Jun 18, 2012

We're delusional if we think that the people with all of the negative and misinformed viewpoints on animal welfare have little effect. Kee Jim says he thinks it's maybe only 45%-- I'm not sure if he realises how close 45% is to 50%???? That's half of the population with negative perceptions about our industry!!! And it is a number that will continue to increase. People no longer have any close-up connection to agriculture and certainly no realistic understanding of it.
In respect to animal health they have no understanding of the reasons for many of the necessary procedures that animals need. Examples being herd health immunizations (the public think that every drug is an antibiotic or a growth hormone and they've been convinced that they are all 'bad' for them), or management practices such as dehorning or castration or branding. They're issues which if they are not understood and presented with education, can be vastly misinterpreted and used against our industry with great devastation.
Nor does the public understand that cattle convert grass to protein and that very often that grass is native prairie which is kept healthy by well managed grazing and that, for the most part, this is the best use for much of this land-- certainly for land in arid or semi-arid areas. Instead, they are being told that cattle are 'bad' for the environment and that if they were to eat meat one less day a week (ie. 'meatless mondays'), they would be helping the environment! Needless to say, eliminating meat consumption for one day a week all across Canada would have a pretty huge impact! That is a market loss of over 10% to give an easy visualisation.
Add to that the perception that meat is unhealthy for us in all of the various imaginary, false and mythical ways such as heart health, cancer causing, weight causing, etc, etc... Not so long ago we knew that somewhere out there some people were vegetarians, but they really weren't part of our reality-- Now, menus everywhere list 'vegetarian choices' as a matter of course.
Each of these perceptions is very destructive to our and they have a huge cumulative effect. As a beef producer, unlike Kee Jim, I don't think public perception is something that is just something a few 'fringe' people think that won't really bother us that much. I'm thinking that we'd better wake up and pay attention and get selling, promoting and educating as fast and as well as we possibly can. I think it is all pretty damned scary. Especially when some of our industry spokesmen are somehow unaware of the negativity being directed towards every aspect of beef production AND consumption.
Sincerely,
Heather S. Beierbach

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 10, 2012

He says 4 to 5%, not 45%. I think however he is missing one large segment, of which I consider myself. I am a meat eater and am starting to look for more humanely raised/slaughtered animals. I am also starting to eat more vegetables and reduce my meat consumption. Not because I'm against it, but because I believe a lot of animals are being raised in inhumane ways. I grew up on a beef farm, and even now think that beef is about the most humanely raised meat animal there is. Feedlot, auction and slaughter practices however can always be improved on.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 13, 2012

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margret Mead

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 29, 2012

Thanks Hutch for your comment. You make it easier for people like me to eliminate meat from my diet. Signed, a consumer jackass considering eliminating beef.

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