I absolutely love days where I can sit talk with farmers and ranchers and encourage them to reach out of their comfort zone to share their stories. This past week, the Tennessee Beef Industry Council and Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association offered me that opportunity. Lauren Chase and I were both very grateful for the chance to put together a workshop for about 30 farmers, ranchers, and members of the agriculture community in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Lauren put together a great video that summarized the event.
What is #SocialBeef?
Farmers and Ranchers are often under criticism from folks who have had little or no exposure to how modern agriculture actually works. We are encouraging members of the agriculture community to reach out and be more social, telling their stories of food production. This applies online where conversations are already occurring, as well as in our local communities. Our neighbors will be our greatest allies in times of need, if we are more transparent with them and answering their questions about our food supply. So will you give a pledge to be more social?
It’s not so much about teaching folks what message to share, but more about giving the tools for using social media and helping them map out a strategy for how they want to use it. Several folks are surprised by the difference that can be made by engaging on social media. We had a great time during the visit in Tennessee and I look forward to future workshops and opportunities like this!
The cows and calves had their weight recorded. Many of the calves are already getting close to 600 lbs. After we were finished, everyone was turned out to the pasture; less than an hour in the pens for each herd of cows.
The bulls have been out with the cows for the past 60 days, but breeding season has come to an end, and they are headed to their pastures separate from the cows. A short breeding season is utilized as a useful management tool.
Calves are born in a short window, allowing us to dedicate time to watching over cows during calving.
Cows are more uniform in their nutrient requirements which change with stage of pregnancy and length of lactation.
Spring calving works for herds in Tennessee because our peak in forage production coincides with peak in cow nutrient requirements, allowing us to use pasture to supply all of our cow’s diet during this most important time.
Calves are more uniform at weaning, making it easier to market and feed them after weaning.
Less fertile cows are identified and culled from the herd when not breeding during this 60-day window, allowing us to build a herd with selection for better genetics for efficiency and production.
A few years ago, I recorded a few short videos while pulling bulls from the pastures and discussed what was happening. Continue reading →
A follow-up to a previous post regarding the heated “Ag gag” bills/laws across the country.
The controversy over so-called ‘Ag gag’ bills has heated up in Tennessee during the past few weeks. Celebrities the likes of Carrie Underwood and Ellen Degeneres have been touting their status and rallying fans to urge TN Governor Haslam to veto HB1191/SB1248 that would protect Tennessee animals subject to cruelty. Carrie Underwood, I can understand, she actually lives in TN. But Ellen?
What does the Tennessee bill actually say?
Easy. It’s a one-page piece of legislation, passed by both Houses, with only one amendment, awaiting the Governor’s signature.
“SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-14-202, is amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated subsection:
( ) Any person who records by photograph or video a violation of subsection (a)
as committed against livestock shall, within forty-eight (48) hours of the photograph’s or recording’s creation:
(1) Report such violation to law enforcement authorities; and
(2) Submit any unedited photographs or video recordings to law enforcement authorities.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013, the public welfare requiring it.”
If only more legislation by governments across this country could be that short and to the point.
Largely the perspectives from the agriculture side did not receive a lot of feedback. However, Shapiro’s post came with several comments very negative about the issue. Personally, many of them are 1 and 2 liners that look like someone rallied the troops and invited everyone to post a comment in opposition to the ‘ag gag’ bills.
To me, a bill like TN HB1191/SB1248 is important because it limits the undercover and investigative recording of groups like HSUS who splice together and narrate the footage, then use it in a release that happens to be very timely for their fundraising efforts. Nashville’s Fox affiliate featured a story this week that highlighted just how deceptive HSUS’ fundraising campaigns are in regards to contributions to actual animal shelters.
The bill is not a “gag” as many folks have labeled. It requires immediate reporting of cruelty and prevents out-of-context, deceptive undercover investigations released to the public. Does our food and farm system need to be more transparent in its practices? Yes. But these undercover videos only hamper that situation.
I’m not 100% behind this type of legislation and feel it important to highlight my previous statement – “Our country doesn’t need another law telling us how to act behind the gates. We need encouragement for better transparency without harassment from others seeking to place blame and mislead for personal gain.”
Everyone is allowed to have an opinion here, and I think both sides are passionate about stopping animal cruelty. How much clearer can we get than the Tennessee bill in question?
We need a better understand of how each side is defining cruelty in livestock and some open-mindedness long enough to sit down and come to an understanding of what is best for our livestock and those caring for them.
The American Angus Association is one of the largest organizations within the cattle industry and does a great job showcasing the hard-working cattle producers across the country. Along with numerous print publications, the Angus folks have a great online presence. Their YouTube channel is full of videos featuring great news and information for cattle farmers and those looking to learn more about beef cattle production.
Young Bull Management
Late last summer I had a great opportunity to work with the folks at the Angus Association. They came out to the University farm in Spring Hill, TN and filmed a few segments with us. The first segment aired on the weekly Angus Report on RFD-TV back in October. Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center Director, Kevin Thompson, shared some great tips with cattle producers who are interested in better management for their young herd bulls.
Be sure to check out more of the videos on the American Angus Association’s YouTube channel and let them know you appreciate their work to share the stories of cattle farmers and ranchers from across the country. They are doing their part to share the honest story of agriculture with the world and you should too!