McDonald’s Advertisement Misleading, Cattle Full of Antibiotics


When responses get too long… I had a comment on my post about McDonald’s new farmer ad campaign this weekend and my response became a bit lengthy. I guess it just hit a spot when people start assuming things about cattle feeding operations and that real farmers aren’t out there in the pasture with their cows, they’re actually pumping them full of antibiotics in the feedlot. After working for two of the country’s largest cattle feeding operations, having my family feed thousands of cattle in these feedlots, and touring many more, I have a bit of an inside view on how these things operate. At least enough to know these cattle aren’t knee-deep in mud.

So here’s the response to the comment. Take it as you will. If it brings up ANY questions at all, PLEASE leave them in the comments section or email me and I will share my thoughts. I hate when people spread false ideas without having first hand knowledge.

1) Most cattle finished in CAFO‘s (feedlots) today are there on an average of 120-160 days.

2) Prior to the finish-feeding phase these cattle are raised on grass. Most of the cattle herds in this country can be found on ranges of lush pasture during the growing season, and fed stockpiled or stored forages during the winter.

3) After working for two of the largest cattle feeding operations in this country, I can attest to their pen conditions and health. No, the cattle are not standing knee-deep in their excrement. There is a lot of planning that goes into form the floor of the pen with the right slope and even mounds in the middle for good drainage. And the feedlots are located in regions with more arid climates, so the excrement dries fairly quickly to form a dry base.

4) These cattle are NOT pumped full of antibiotics. That is only reserved for HSUS and Chipotle propaganda. When I was working with a vet crew at the feedyards we had several steps to make sure we never overdosed the cattle. Each animal’s temperature was recorded and unless the animal was showing clinical signs of illness he/she did not receive medicines. We had consulting vets on call at any time to reference and a chain of supervisors looking over the records. And when we saw an increase in sickness in a particular group of cattle, we would look at how we could change our management (feeding, handling, conditions) to reduce that. An animal on medicine withdrawl never ever left the yard. So I can assure you the beef product would be safe from those feedlots.

5) Actually I am kind of jealous of the cattle’s diet during their time in the feedlot. They are fed a specially formulated diet that is highly palatable, and are fed on a regular schedule. Yes the diet contains corn because it is a readily available form of energy in the form of sugars. But the ration also includes forages like alfalfa, wheat silage, corn silage (which is the actual stalks), and grass hay. Plant bi-products are also a part of the ration like brewery distillers grains, and can include parts of soybean, cotton, and rice plants just to name a few.

You should probably take a look at this bloggers POV from a feedlot. Feedyard Foodie. You’d learn a lot about the operation from a foodie’s POV and she’s very open to questions. You can also reference back to my posts in 2010 during my time at a feedlot.
Believe it or not many of these feedlot operations are family owned and operated and many are willing to answering questions, if you ask in an approachable manner. Cattle production is very sustainable and we’ve been working hard to significantly reduce our resource consumption since 1977. Take a look at this paper from Dr. Jude Capper for more on that.

So all that to say, No the McDonald’s ad is not misleading. That’s how cattle production looks today.

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About Ryan Goodman (988 Articles)
Ryan Goodman lives in Helena, MT and comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about farming systems across the country. A graduate of Oklahoma State, Ryan is currently working on a Master's degree from the University of Tennessee. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same.

41 Comments on McDonald’s Advertisement Misleading, Cattle Full of Antibiotics

  1. Good information. I try to learn more about livestock since we haven’t had pigs for about five years now. I’m kind of out of the loop, but since livestock are some of my best customers it’s good for me to know what’s going on in the industry. Thanks!

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    • No problem Brian. Sometimes we forget that just because we’re all food producers doesn’t mean we don’t need to learn about other sectors of the agriculture community. I know I learn about crops from your posts.

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  2. Thanks for sharing my Feed Yard Foodie website with your readers! I hope that folks will follow what we do everyday to produce safe and healthy beef from well cared for animals. I did a lengthy series on antibiotic use last fall on the feed yard foodie site. I invite anyone to take a look at them if they have questions regarding antibiotic use or antibiotic resistance as it pertains to use of antibiotics in beef cattle. They are archived under the subheading “Antibiotics and Hormones” or you can look them up by date (posted the end of November until mid-December).

    Have a great day!
    Anne

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    • No problem Anne. You do a great job at creating a link between consumers and agriculture and are able to explain many great questions pertaining to feedlots. Thank you.

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  3. I sure hate that phrase ‘pumped full of antibiotics’. I’ve heard it too many times from people who have serious misconceptions about how livestock are raised.

    If people could just understand how hard we work to prevent illness, perhaps they’d understand that it’s far better for the animals when we work to keep them healthy than to it is to treat for illness.

    Children are managed in large groups at school, and get individual attention as needed. Cattle are managed in large groups too, and are watched closely for signs that they need individual attention. Maybe cattle have it better – – they can walk around, rest, get a drink of clean water, and have pretty much all they want to eat in a ration that meets their nutritional needs AND tastes good. Not many school kids can say that.

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  4. Nebraska Farm Wife // January 17, 2012 at 8:55 AM // Reply

    Thanks Ryan for working so hard to get the truth out there!!! I think if the consumer would look to the producers and ask the questions to the producers they would be supprised how many of us would be more than happy to talk with them and give them the information. Yes we use antibiotics on our farm but only when absolutely needed. If a calf gets sick he gets the medicine he needs to get healthy again. But we spend more time preventing illness than actually treating it.

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  5. Caryl Velisek // January 17, 2012 at 9:37 AM // Reply

    Thanks again, Ryan. My husband fed cattle in a 3,000 head feedlot 40+ miles from Washington, D.C., for 20 years and we visited large and small feedlots all over the country.
    Everything you say is absolutely true.
    We always worked closely with our vets and the people we sold our livestock to. We also had a small herd of breeding stock of our own as did the owner of the feedlot. There was never any indiscriminate use of antibiotics. The problem is the truth is not getting out there. If a producer doesn’t treat his stock well, they don’t produce well. Every farmer I know, knows this.
    I write for an ag newspaper and I know I am preaching to the choir. But I do try to help them get the real story out. I live near D.C. and PETA headquarters and I have to listen to this misinformation (and downright lies) all the time. It all goes back to the tremendous disconnect between those who produce the food and those who consume it. We have an excellent Buy Local program and a number of Farmers Markets here in Maryland and that seems to be doing a good job of telling consumers our story. People really enjoy meeting those who are producing their food and talking to them about it.
    We need air and food and water to live and too many people think their food is magically manufactured. We’ll just keep plugin’ away and hope people are listening.

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  6. Great post! To add, I don’t know about elsewhere but here in our part of CA where almonds are grown dairies use almond hulls on the fgroind for their cattle to have a dry “carpet”, also making our farming more sustainable by using our byproducts that people don’t consume!

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  7. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

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    • You’re right. The more we know and learn about what we’re dealing with, we can learn more on how to treat it. Sometimes treatment isn’t just medicines, sometimes it includes management and some fail to recognize that.

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  8. Ryan, I have been unable to confirm whether the cow-calf operator in the advertisement has a contract with McDonald’s. Do you know?

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    • If you’ll see my previous McD’s post (linked on this post) you’ll find a link to Steve’s website

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  9. Great post, Ryan. My first Internet Communications job was for a health food company, and I spent a lot of time reading blogs about health food trends. I stumbled across this blog post along the way. It’s a vegan body-builder nutritionist’s views after visiting Magnum Feedlot in Colorado: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/cattle-feedlot-visit

    While he’s still a vegan and still promotes an animal-free lifestyle, his impressions of the industry have changed. He admits to having additional cynicism here and there, but he shares his experiences in an unbiased way that I’m truly impressed with. His convictions tell him that he must stay his course (which is his personal choice and right) but he does state that there’s some obvious misconceptions about the industry.

    Keep up the great work!

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  10. blackinklaura // January 17, 2012 at 10:36 AM // Reply

    Thanks for sharing this awesome overview of the cattle feeding business, Ryan. Well done. We just posted this video of Dr. Capper talking about the environmental impact of beef on our facebook page, and I thought you and your readers would enjoy it: https://www.facebook.com/BlackInkBasics.
    Keep up the great work!
    -Laura

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  11. Good job Ryan sharing the facts.

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  12. Thank you Ryan!

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  13. Nice post Ryan.

    Carrie, Steve is the past president of NCBA. Here is a link to their ranch & feedlot website: http://www.blackgoldranchandfeedlot.com/Home_Page.php. Not sure there is a “written contract.” Buyers for McDonalds tend to purchase from multiple producers on a regular basis, adding new producers and dropping others as demand shifts by region through the year. When buyers find a producer that is consistent in quality and numbers through the year and over time, “unofficial” agreements form and you find direct sales. Sometimes contracts are written, often times they are not. Doesn’t answer your question, but Steve is good man and honest.

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    • Rex Peterson // June 11, 2012 at 5:13 PM // Reply

      Steve Fogelburg spoke to the Nebraska Cattlemen at their 2012 midsummer meeting including showing the McDonalds ad. The ad agency verified that at least some of the cows he sold at the local market indeed did end up in the McDonalds supply chain. He does not have a contract with them. Every cattle producer I know tries to provide quality and understands that we are totally dependent upon our neighbors for the reputation of our own product in the meatcase.

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  14. While it is indeed very true that most cattle do spend most of their lives on grass (6-10months) & only the last 120-150 days (4-5 months) in a typical commercial feedlot, that doesn’t mean that those cattle were antibiotic free or grain free prior to the feedlot. I personally know cow/calf producers who creep feed their calves either using grain or grain by products or a manufactured pelleted feed, who also feed a free choice mineral containing CTC (an antibiotic used to help prevent foot rot, pink eye, etc), then wean their calves using a Pre-conditioning feed that contains CTC, others feed an oral fly control larvacide to their pasture animals (raybon), and almost all of them use implants (hormones) on their feeder calves to increase their weight because more lbs. means more $$. Some cattle producers don’t do any of that, but mostly those selling a niche product. However, the overwhelming majority do at least 1, 2 or more of those things. Those are the facts and not 1 bit of it is fiction.

    Also, quite a few cattle, although certainly not all of them, are confined or semi-confined in smaller backgrounding feedlots (typically on the farm) prior to going on to a bigger commercial feedlot. How many calves are weaned out on pasture and how many are weaned in pens? The overwhelming majority are weaned in pens prior to the feedlot. Some are weaned out on pasture and many are grown on wheat pasture or grass. But, even so, a pretty large number of cattle do receive atleast limited supplemental feed (grain, grain by products, molasses/urea lick tubs, etc) for more than 120-150 days of their lives.

    No, most conventional raised beef isn’t as nearly terrible as some have made it sound, but let’s not put a sugar coated spin on it either. Understating the facts that you want to share is almost as bad as those “anti-ag” folks who overstate their claims. Both tactics are called “spin”.

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    • Ryan, that is a fantastic post. I am a 2011 grad of Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and my family has a 350-head cow/calf ranch in North Dakota. I also worked at a 9,000 head feedlot in Oklahoma during vet school. You paint a very accurate picture of the beef industry, from cow/calf to feedlot. Thank you for your dedication to clearing up misconceptions about how livestock are cared for in this country.

      Thomas J: Why is it bad to supplement calves before they are weaned? Supplementing calves with grain or pelleted feed prepares the rumen for the transition from from milk and grass to a more concentrated diet. It actually helps reduce the stress of weaning because calves know how to eat grain and know how to go to a bunk before they have to.

      My family feeds oats as a creep feed, and we use implants in our steer calves. We have never fed CTC or anything containing CTC to our cattle. As a vet I can say that some people do feed CTC, but not many. It is mostly fed to high risk calves, and for a short period of time when they are introduced to the feedlot. Personally I don’t like antibiotics in the feed, because the sick cattle that you are targeting might not be eating anyways.

      As far as implants go, the hormones in the implants do not increase weight; they increase feed efficiency. Cattle are still finished at the same weight, but implanting them gets them to that weight using less feed. Implants reduce feed and other resources used to raise cattle, so they result in a more affordable product for consumers.

      And the effect of those hormones on the estrogen content of beef? A 500 gram portion of beef from a non-implanted steer has 5 nanograms of estrogenic activity, and the same portion from an implanted steer has 7 ng. So their is an increase. But when compared to a 500 gram portion of white bread (300,000 ng), pinto beans (900,000 ng), tofu (113,500,000 ng) or soy flour (755,000,000 ng), that difference is negligible. And when an adult man produces 136,000 ng of estrogen per day, and a non-pregnant woman produces 513,000 ng, the amount found in beef is less than a drop in the bucket. (All figures come from http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/information/IBC48.pdf)

      Beef cattle are not “pumped full of antibiotics.” Antibiotics are given when they are appropriate for treating a disease, or when their use will prevent a disease in animals at high risk of becoming sick. Withdrawal times are carefully monitored because even one carcass residue can affect their ability to sell cattle to a packer.

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      • I can see from the comments that there is obviously a lot or venom towards those who are pushing “pumped full of antibiotics” & towards those who I assume must be trying to portray that “feedlots” are evil. That is sad. But, even so, that is no reason to use “spin”. Otherwise, expect to reap what you sow because 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

        You made my point for me… Creep feeding calves on pasture prepares an animal to be weaned and then immediately fed in a feed bunk not on pasture) after weaning. Isn’t that correct? Just because they are not put in a commercial feedlot immediately after weaning doesn’t mean that a bunch of cattle arent dry
        lotted and feed bunk fed before going to a commercial feedlot. You seem to know as well as I, that most calves are weaned, immediately taken off of pasture & fed in feed bunks. That is my point. Even you and virtually everybody in the cattle industry knows that most cattle are off of pasture for more than 120 days like the author claimed. The exception are those calves which are backgrounded on wheat pastue and less that are backgrounded on grass. Weaning age for the majority of calves is approx. 6-7 months of age. Very seldomn will a calf be allowed to nurse for longer than 7 months. And that is the end of being on pasture for a lot of calves (again, not all). Finished animals are typically 14-16 months, give or take a couple. Translation… A good number of calves are off of grass longer than just 120 days. In many cases, the reality is that it’s more like 180 days or longer off of pasture. Roughly, about half of the animals life. Again, the exception would be the calves that graze wheat pasture (and in truth, a bunch of calves do indeed do that) or who grow their calves on grass (very few do that beyond the “Pharoites” or the grass fed folks). Again, I am just pointing out that a great many calves do spend more of their lives off of grass than just 120 days. I know better than only 120 off grass being the norm.

        My uncle used to run/own a stockyards, my dad was an order buyer, my family has done a lot of backgrounding, we’ve had a cow/calf operation my entire life, never worked at a feedlot but have visited several, have sent cattle to several feedlots, 3 of my uncles were presidents of our states beef cattle association, and my very own sister was recruited to be an Ag activist! Trust me, I know the drill quite well.

        As for CTC, most people that I know will feed it for 30 days after weaning or to calves upon arrival if they are backgrounding (preparing calves for the feedlots). I know that practice is very common. Our local feedmill specializes in free choice mineral that contains CTC. I know that some of the bigger feed companies also offer CTC enhance mineral. Typically, this is not fed year round, but mostly during the summer months when most cows are nursing baby calves. No, not everybody feeds CTC mineral. But, many around here do. It may be more localized & not necessarily nationwide. Still, I would venture to guess that most feedlot animals do receive CTC or another antibiotic at some point of their lives. “Pumped full” is over the top in most cases, but saying or implying that most feedlot animals have had no antibiotics is a bit misleading too.

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      • Thomas you seem to be stuck on the 120 days, never mind I said that was the feedlot phase (never said anything to include/exclude/deny preconditioning/backgrounding/stocker cattle in that statement). I’m glad you’re determined to hash and rehash your points. I am reading, but am saving most of my responses for full, follow-up posts.

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  15. Excellent post Ryan.

    I have a really good friend that is in charge of the hospital at a huge Nebraska feedlot. Over Christmas she was telling me that she is being trained to listen to the cattle’s breathing and give them a respiratory score. The score helps to determine what medications are to be used for treatment. She basically said the same thing you did about other health protocols.

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  16. MidwestAgGuy // January 17, 2012 at 6:13 PM // Reply

    This isn’t totally having to do with the antibiotic thing, but still relates to overall how cattle are treated in feedlots…..You know, this “up to their knees in their own excrement” idea really hits a hot spot with me, because in all operations I’m familiar with, which is quite a few, it simply isn’t true. I would venture to guess the same could be said for nearly all of the rest of them, too. Unless there is some mysterious new breed out there that I am not aware of whose knees are an inch or so above the ground. If there are any that allow it to get THAT deep to where it inhibits the animals’ ability to move, they are poorly managed and should not be in business in my opinion. I grew up on a cattle feeding operation that now feeds over 10,000 head, I worked for another large feeding operation after college that fed 5,000 head, and now some of my customers are cattle feeding operations as I work in my professional occupation where ALL of my customers are family farmers and ranchers that feed anywhere from 100 to 1,000 head at a time. I am familiar with a 20,000 head lot in my area, to name a few. I can attest to Ryan’s comment that a lot of time, money, and outsourced engineering goes into design of a facility for both the benefit of the animals, and the environment. In fact, in some states the regs are so strict, you can hardly believe it. Regardless of the need to follow some state or federal regulation, producers WANT the pen/facility conditions to be as suitable as possible while also managing the waste that does result. In the feeding operations I have experience with, including that of my own family’s, there are some pieces of equipment that get used as much, if not more than the feed wagons or feed trucks, and that is the box scraper and loader. The fact is that operations in my area are working pens, and keeping manure out, cleaning, etc, from 6 am until 6 pm daily. It’s just part of the daily process. Each pen gets cleaned out every few days year around as they work their way around the feedyard on a scheduled rotation. When it snows, guess what?…. that gets hauled out , too, so as to minimize the amount of mud that is created when things thaw during nicer weather in a lot of situations. In the summer, the operation I worked for even scraped up and hauled out the dust regularly to help prevent respiratory issues so the cattle were not subjected to breathing dust. One operation I am familiar with outsources to a local construction company that dedicates 3 semi trucks with side dumps that do nothing but haul manure out 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Bottom line is a large majority, if not all of them, are fanatical, maybe even obsessed with keeping the conditions as ideal as possible to promote health and comfort of the animals and while promoting good environmental stewardship. To them, this practice is as important as breathing. In those that I am familiar with, there are certain days that you can walk out in the pen in your Sunday shoes and not get them full of “excrement” unless you step in a freshly made “pie.” I’m not exaggerating. I’ve done it. The waste is used for fertilizer, but the grain farmers don’t just recklessly spread it. It is done with the help of their crop consultant so as not to over-do it on the application side as well. This is just what I see in my corner of the world. From what I hear in the news, the “excrement” left on the ground by people at some of these Occupy Wall Street protests is deeper than a lot of feedlots most days! By the way, I also have yet to see an operation in all those I deal with that “pump” antibiotics into the cattle. Only for the purpose of treating and preventing illness are medicines used….use of CTC in some cases, yes, and only when necessary to help build immunity to and/or treat certain illnesses and only in recommended and very small doses……no different than me going to get a flu shot, giving our infant kids their immunity shots, or what we do for our own bodies to stay healthy and comfortable and hopefully free of illness going forward. Sorry for the long post, but felt the need to weigh in also. Thanks for your posts, Ryan!!

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  17. Thanks again from a consumer with hardly any ag background.

    Quite frank, for me it is sometimes hard to see the truth between the (quote) ‘sugar coated’ (quote end) rolemodel ranches/feedlots and what the worst anti-beef-advocates come up with.
    I mentioned this before: There will always be places where animals are treated violently and cruel. As long as those place are not eliminated to the last (speaking of tight tight tight supervision and control up to the smallest enterprises), anti-ag people will always have food to come up with cruel videos/pictures and so on.
    That is one of the reasons why I like your blog. It takes up such topics and puts them into perspective, at least for me, again there will always be ‘black sheep’ like feedlots where cattle waits in knee-deep manure till its over.

    And I can see why consumers have negative assumptions about such places (not necessarily speaking of antibiotics),too – I just remember a big feedlot (with hundreds? of heads in pens) in CA (I-5) that thousands of cars pass every day and -independant from the wheather/wind- you drive through a big cloud of *urgs* smell. People hardly ask any more questions whether the animals are handled nicely or not. Nobody even considers doing research on that place or even asks for a tour. They just jump to conclusions that this place must be dirty and therewith not animal friendly.
    Hm.. not sure if I can phrase a question based on that… a) (and a lot of readers might laugh at that question….) is it normal, that manure smells in a two miles radius around a feedlot? b) how do ‘most of the feedlots’ deal with that problem (if at all)?
    From a consumers point of view, that’s one of the points were the bad image of feedlots start. (The next would be that most passing-by-consumers think that the brown soil the cattle is kept on is all manure…..thanks for clarifying on that!)

    Again, thanks Ryan for this interesting post. I will keep it in mind when the next person comes up to me and tells me about the ‘smelly meat-factory’. At least I know better by know!

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  18. Ryan, when I first saw the headline, “McDonald’s Advertisement Misleading, Cattle Full of Antibiotics,” I thought YOU were saying the ads were misleading :) Thanks for setting the record straight about antibiotic use and the diet of cattle in feedyards. I wish every consumer could see firsthand the exceptional care and treatment cattle receive in feedyards where they have plenty of room to move around, groom themselves, socialize with other cattle and behave normally as they graze on a balanced diet of grasses, grains and locally-grown renewable feeds. Since that is probably not possible given that most feedyards are located well away from large urban population centers, it is good that we have people like you who can bear witness to the truth.

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  19. Honesty will always prevail in the end. Pumped full of antibiotics is generally stemming from the fact just about all confinement feeding operations feed ionopheres throught most of the fattening stage. Most are also consuming large quantities of GMO corn which affect health and even more devestating is the ecologic affects. As a cattle producer for 40 years I urge you to not sugar coat what we as an industry are doing. The only people that hide these facts are those who profit from this antiquated system no longer necessary since many are using other methods.

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    • Inosphores are very widely fed to cattle here too. Our local feedmill puts Monensin (an Inosphore) in a soy hull X corn gluten feed mix that is used in this area for creep feed and for backgrounding too. Several have problems with cocsidiosis & they feed it to help keep it under control. A lot of cattle are fed inosphores. A lot.

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  20. I was at a beef slaughter plant where they were killing spent dairy cows McDonalds had purchased on contract. I assure you all those lame cows would never be on a McDonalds commercial…that’s what I found misleading about the McDonald commercial :-/

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    • Thanks for the comment Hannah. Could you describe “lame” a little more?

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      • The dairy industry uses locomotion scoring to help producers assess the health of their herds. I would have rated these cattle with locomotion scores of 4 and 5 which are “lame” and “severely lame.” The cattle were displaying arched backs for standing and walking, sunken dew claws and limping. Many of the cattle had support bandages around their legs to help themselves them even make the trip from the dairymen to the knock box.
        Now, I am not suggesting that these cattle should not be part of the “hamburger chain” although it does cry for higher dairy herd management standards. I am only pointing out that the picture is not as rosy as McDonalds painted it.

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  21. Caryl Velisek // June 10, 2012 at 8:13 AM // Reply

    Was at a field day recently where a couple of things were explained about cattle feeding in detail and very well. The first had to do with being ‘crowded together’ in a feedlot. It was explained that cattle are basically social creatures. They like to be together with other cattle and when left to their own devices, out on pasture for instance, they will stick close together in groups. (I think they like to gossip! lol) The other had to do with pasture feeding. It was explained that all pasture turns to seed (grain) at some point in its life, and pasture-fed animals eat that grain as it occurs out in the pasture. And, I repeat, if livestock are not treated well, they will not produce well. And that includes dairy animals.

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  22. What do you think about the following statistics used by the U.N

    It takes 1 000-3 000 litres of water to produce just one kilo of rice and 13 000 to 15 000 litres to produce one kilo of grain-fed beef. (http://www.unwater.org/statistics_sec.html)

    And please comment on this too?:

    “Most estimates claim that between 1,800 and 2,500 gallons of water go into producing each pound of beef. Beef production includes everything from providing water to the cattle to watering fields to produce grain for the cattle to eat. According to The Sierra Club, that same amount of water “could produce 16 pounds of broccoli, 25 pounds of potatoes, enough soybeans for three pounds of tofu or enough wheat for nearly five pounds of whole wheat bread.”

    Simply raising the large amount of cattle needed to fill people’s high-meat diets is impacting our environment. In the United States, approximately 260 million acres of land that were once forests are now grazed by cattle. Worldwide, livestock rearing is responsible for nearly 20% of all greenhouse gases.

    Not only does producing beef use a lot of water, but it also has the potential to contaminate our waterways. According to the Government Accountability Office, an estimated 1.6 million tons of animal waste is created in the U.S. alone. What do farmers do with that waste?

    Most animal waste on farms is stored and used for fertilizer on crops or as manure. Waste that isn’t re-used often finds its way into our water systems by getting washed away by rain or being absorbed into the soil. However, “the soil and water cannot absorb the manure in an efficient manner, leading to soil accumulation and runoff of phosphorus, nitrogen, and other related toxins, which threatens drinking water as well as aquatic ecosystems” (Center for a New American Dream). ” – http://www.earthshare.org/2010/03/how-does-your-diet-impact-the-environment.html

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    • Jay, I see lots of numbers thrown around on the water issues, accusing beef cattle production being wasteful. Many numbers are stretched far into the thousands and millions, but I have a hard time understanding them. Are these numbers including rainfall too? How much of that water returns to the water cycle.

      Here’s some research describing how much the beef industry has improved on efficiency and use of resources. Be sure to utilize the number of research articles cited in this paper as well. http://www.academia.edu/1123092/The_Environmental_Impact_of_Beef_Production_in_the_United_States_1977_Compared_with_2007

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  23. Oh and can can you please comment on the ethics of large-scale milk harvesting of dairy cows. (artificial insemination, cramped spaces, antibiotics, calf taken away early, psychological disorders)

    And gestation crates for pigs too please! I’m learning about all this and I want to hear from someone who has had some experience in the area

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    • Jay, if you’ll utilize the search box on the right hand side of this blog page, you’ll see that I’ve already addressed some of these concerns.

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  24. Ryan, Like all your posts, I enjoyed getting the perspective of someone who is actually a producer. I trust you and what you post. I think some of the strong reactions come from just how diversified the business of producing beef is. You may have worked in well run feedlots, but some others here have experience in feedlots that are exactly the kind many Americans fear. What’s hard for the consumers to know is which beef comes from which feedlot. How was the beef on my plate been produced? What is on my plate that’s going into my body?

    I think producers like sheepwriter and others should be a bit less impatient with the phrase “pump full of antibiotics.” The idea is out there, and even though you are doing a great job of dispelling that belief for those producers who don’t do it, there still are producers who do. It’s not a misconception about those beef producters who do it; maybe just those who generally read your posts. For your information, when I go to my local feedstore, the default cattle feed is medicated. I have to specifically look for, ask for or even order a non-medicated product. I even have to use waterfowl feed for my chicks, because the only chick starter here is medicated. Now I’m not saying that medicated feed is bad, or unnecessary. But it’s out there, and non-producers know it. By minimizing its existence only increases the mistrust of non-producers.

    Personally, I’d like to know exactly how producers who continue to medicate their animals do it: what medication, for what reasons, on what schedule, what withdrawal period, etc. I don’t think anyone is afraid of a good producer. It’s the others that we need to know about.

    Thomas’ comments are as valid as any other, in the overall picture, just not your operation.

    (By the way, how did I wind up at this thread from October? And okay, I know HSUS propaganda, but what the heck is jalapeno propaganda?)

    Like

  25. Ryan,
    I enjoyed your post and found it to be well written. I have a blog of my own that shows the point of view from a small Missouri Cow-calf operation owner’s viewpoint. I do include part of our personal lives and that is because it is hard to separate the farm from the rest of your life when this is your life. Again thank you for helping to get the word out there. Here is a link to my blog, http://polledherefordandproudofit.blogspot.com/ , please feel free to remove it if you so choose.

    May God continue to Bless you with the wisdom and words to inform consumers of the real way we raise their food.

    Cheryl Zvacek

    Like

    • Thanks for sharing the link Cheryl! Glad to see you’re sharing your farming story online as well!

      Like

  26. is it bad for cows to eat corn?

    Like

    • Thanks for the questions Bella. I have an entire post with that answer from my experience here – http://agricultureproud.com/2012/10/09/ask-a-farmer-what-do-feedlot-cattle-eat/

      Like

3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Care Package: Video About Cattle Welfare « Agriculture Proud
  2. The Care Package: Video About Cattle Welfare « Agriculture Proud
  3. 2012 Agriculture Proud in review | Agriculture Proud

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