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New D.C. animal group poses danger for ranchers

March 29, 2010

By Mike Mehren
Oregon Feed and Grain Association

This little beauty will be quite a bit different than any of my columns. This is about an organization calling itself ‘Global Animal Partnership’. The organization is headquartered in Wa D.C. Members of the Board include Wayne Pacelle of the H.S.U.S. and Steven Gross from P.E.T.A. Neither of these groups represented on their board have been friends of animal agriculture. The Ag Marketing Service of the USDA reported that their 5 step approach was a natural extension of the Organic Standards. Some of the standards that I consider ridiculous are: no cattle shall go through an auction barn, no cow shall be hauled within 12 weeks of calving, no rodents in the barn…I can’t seem to keep them out of my house!

Their stated goal is to facilitate and encourage improvement in animal agriculture. Sounds something LIKE the government man that stops by the ranch and says ‘I’m here to help you’.

They are signing up supermarket chains that will only purchase your animals if you qualify as a partner. So when Super-Duper Supermarket Chain puts in their order for beef, part of their specs will be that all meat purchased must come from G.A.P. certified producers. I hope you get a huge premium, because you’re going to need it!

They have different levels of cooperation for their beef producer partners. The more a ranch complies with their goals, the higher level they achieve. Whether these goals are realistic, beneficial to the animals, or achievable remains to be seen.

I will try to confine my comments to issues that pertain to feeding, nutrition or areas where the animals are fed. However, that isn’t a solemn promise; I may slip off the edge of the cliff and mention some other areas! You need to study the plan to see how you could fit them in to your ranch management. If you use the internet, type in Global Animal Partnership on your search engine and it will take you to their website.

Give an appropriate amount of feed to meet nutritional requirements. Who decides what an appropriate amount is? Must you feed cows all they want to eat? What an animal will eat and what it needs to meet the nutrient requirements are not the same. What are nutrient requirements based on? The National Research Council produces a book called ‘Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle. It is revised every ten years. This tells me that nutrient requirements are a moving target. As we learn more about animal metabolism, age, breed and environmental effects, the requirements are changed to reflect this. Another grazing concern notes that the ground must have at least 50% coverage by forage plants. Get ready to move off the desert range. On a normal year, desert coverage is about 50% to begin with! So no grazing could be allowed. Where does forested range fit into that puzzle?

The body condition score of all animals must be maintained at BCS Score 4 or above. This is a great idea, but sometimes excellent cows lose body condition because they are producing a lot of milk. Separating them from the rest of the cows is not very practical when experience has taught us that she will gain weight rapidly after her calf is removed. If a large percentage of the cows have lost enough weight to be in BCS 3, it’s pretty evident that feed quality and/or quantity needs to be addressed. Any good manager does that. Is your BCS 4 the same as theirs? I have a tough time between 4+ and 5 when cows have a nice long winter coat.

A minimum weaning age of 6 months is required. There is an exception for a situation that affects the health of the cow or calf. Where did this 6 month figure come from? Does that mean 6 months from the first calf born, or 6 months from the birth of the last calf? I thought things like feed, market, or weather were considerations for weaning time, rather than 6 months. Natural weaning is required. In nature the cow will wean one calf around the time of the birth of her next calf. Some will even allow a yearling and a calf to nurse at the same time. Fortunately the organization goes on to mention alternatives to natural weaning that are acceptable.

Cattle are to remain on range or pasture their entire life. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that they must have grass or forage on the range or pasture all year. It doesn’t always work that way in nature. Snow may last for several months, or it may rain so much that the pasture becomes a shallow lake for several months. Cattle could be fed on snow if they can’t dig through it for feed, but good management would seem to require that the cattle be taken off the lake for the good of the pasture and the cattle. These circumstances don’t qualify as ‘extremes’ but are rather norms in the Pacific Northwest. If cattle are to remain outside for their entire life then some means of finishing them while on pasture must be developed unless they are being raised as grass fed. Pasture feeding requires equipment and labor that is not typically available on a ranch.

When cattle are confined they must have access to a resting area that is not composed of concrete or mud. This definitely would benefit the cattle. It is easily accomplished with straw or other bedding. I have to agree with this idea. Some feedlots don’t do a good job of bedding. This hurts feed efficiency and gain.

Cattle are to be slaughtered on the ranch or at a location they can reach by walking. This effectively changes the entire U.S packing industry. I guess their idea is that everyone will have their own little slaughter plant or that there will be a number of mobile slaughter plants. USDA Meat Inspectors will have to number in the hundreds for each state, running from ranch to ranch. I don’t think the federal government is going to accept that. Have you ever visited a large packing plant? The efficiency, skill, and sanitation is amazing. This has nothing to do with cleanliness or skill of a small plant or a mobile one; there just is no comparison when it comes to cost and efficiency.

One state has already taken a proactive step in this area. The State of Ohio is creating a Livestock Care Standards Board. This group is to be composed of three family farmers, two veterinarians, (one State Vet, other Private Practice Food Animal) a food safety expert, a member of the local humane society, a Dean of a State College of Agriculture, two members from state farm organization, and two member representing Ohio consumers. This seems to be a more logical way to address animal care, and should bring compromises that are sound biologically, politically, and economically.

Groups of cattlemen that have joined together in a ‘natural beef’ program, or a Certified Breed Program have established care standards for their members. They have had these programs designed by nationally recognized animal welfare experts. Their programs are designed to provide best care practices that protect the animal, the producer, and the consumer.

Michael J. Mehren, Ph.D. is a livestock nutritionist from Hermiston who’s partner lets him make all the really big decisions. She just tells him which are the really big ones.
He may be contacted by Email at mehrens@eotnet.net.

  
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Golf Courses in Sugar Land, Texas March 29, 2010

[...] New D.C. animal group poses danger for ranchers – Natural Resource Report [...]

Anya Toll March 29, 2010

If one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.
-Ruth Harrison

We don’t accept “your world” any longer.
I am Vegan – I am for Animal Rights

Dr. Rosset March 30, 2010

This group is nothing more than another animal rights group in disguise. You can tell from their lack of knowlege about animals. All of the laws and restrictions are done to make it impossible to raise any animal or breed any animal. Read the book A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement. by Wesley J. Smith

Review

“Like every antidemocratic ideology, this one [animal rights] is by definition antihuman, and like any antihuman ideology, it ultimately deteriorates into a nihilistic bitterness that is anti-life. . . . Wesley J. Smith knows too well that if the activists ever succeeded in their goals, if they established through culture or law that human beings have no intrinsic dignity greater than that of any animal, the world would not be a better place for either humankind or animals.” Dean Koontz

Over the past thirty years, as Wesley J. Smith details in his latest book, the concept of animal rights has been seeping into the very bone marrow of Western culture. One reason for this development is that the term “animal rights” is so often used very loosely, to mean simply being nicer to animals. But although animal rights groups do sometimes focus their activism on promoting animal welfare, the larger movement they represent is actually advancing a radical belief system.

For some activists, the animal rights ideology amounts to a quasi religion, one whose central doctrine declares a moral equivalency between the value of animal lives and the value of human lives. Animal rights ideologues embrace their beliefs with a fervor that is remarkably intense and sustained, to the point that many dedicate their entire lives to “speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Some believe their cause to be so righteous that it entitles them to cross the line from legitimate advocacy to vandalism and harassment, or even terrorism against medical researchers, the fur and food industries, and others they accuse of abusing animals.

All people who love animals and recognize their intrinsic worth can agree with Wesley J. Smith that human beings owe animals respect, kindness, and humane care. But Smith argues eloquently that our obligation to humanity matters more, and that granting “rights” to animals would inevitably diminish human dignity.

In making this case with reason and passion, A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy strikes a major blow against a radically antihuman dogma.

Nancy March 30, 2010

My daughter and son-in-law raised an angus steer (castrated bull)on pasture to butcher instead of the traditional feed lot way. The result? He got very muscular and when he was butchered the meat was tough as nails and stringy. Normally if I cook roast in a crockpot, it’s tender and melts in your mouth. Not so with this guy! We tried every way under the sun to tenderize that meat and nothing helped. Never again will we ever raise one that way to butcher and when I buy at the store it won’t be anything endorsed by animal rights idea of care! They don’t eat meat so they don’t give a rat’s behind if it’s edible. Their INTENTION is that it isn’t. They want you to go meatless too and the best way to accomplish that goal is to make sure it isn’t edible OR affordable.

Angus Burger March 30, 2010

Anya Toll, you don’t like “our” world? Then move on to the next. The majority of people to not abuse or neglect animals.

Heather March 30, 2010

Anya Toll – I don’t know which world you want to belong to. It can’t be this one. The norm of this world is taht the animal kingdom does not on the whole embrace veganism.

Re: animal rights. Have you looked round the natural world to see what rights animals have amongst themselves? The right to free range (as long as it doesn’t transgress another animal’s territory, in which case you might be beaten up ). The right to aggressively compete with neighbours to have sex with the female of your choice, in order to propagate. The right to eat what you fancy when and where you want, and not be particularly bothered whether it is dead or not before you start eating it. That’s about it. The rights to roam, eat and have sex, all of which can be freely compromised by any other animal strong enough to do so. There isn’t much more to life out there.

Personally I prefer our human rights that we give ouselves and which we earn in order to live within a civilised human social network. These are human rights, and don’t work too well on animals who are not part of our social group. They don’t seem to respect them. Try and sit down with a cow in your living room to watch tv together, and it is liable to splodge all over your carpet. Do the same with a tiger and it will probably try and eat you (alive).

David Nash, DVM March 31, 2010

This seems to be a thinly-veiled attempt to extract funds from ignorant and perhaps overly-sensitized producers, processors and/or consumers. A variety of organizations, many non-profits, have tried to set up third-party certification programs for several industries, i.e. pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements. Those that know their industry have had some success – these folks have a lot to learn before they can credibly certify anything related to agriculture.

farmer March 8, 2011

Heather – excellent observation about the natural world. It’s not all Bambi. Too bad that most people do not realize this as they sit in their suburban house tapping away on their computer.

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