I grew up on a farm where my Dad fed cattle. After high school, I raised hogs with my brothers. Each one of my four kids raised cattle as a way to help them earn money for college, obtain some credit history, and most importantly — experience the immense responsibility you accept by being a stockman.
My parents used to have a saying around our house: “You don’t eat, until the chores are done.” Virtually every dairyman I know, every pork and beef producer, and shepherd all have that same sense of responsibility. It’s a commitment that really is taken very seriously, and is hard to describe to someone who has never had the privilege of pulling a piglet at 2:00 a.m., or baled hay when it’s 95 degrees in the shade, or taken in the satisfaction of seeing cattle jumping around in a newly-bedded barn.
I do find it quite frustrating to find that the Humane Society of the United States has developed an agenda that purports to improve the well-being of livestock. In this latest case of misguided intents, they have entered into an agreement with a major, national poultry organization to increase the size of compartments for laying hens. This is a legislative initiative, which really opens up Pandora’s Box. If a producer can fill a niche market for beef that was raised on feather pillows and daily massages, more power to him. But legislating production practices is going down the wrong path. This is something the livestock industry needs to address head on, and fight with all of their might.
That’s it. It’s really simple. Livestock farmers are the most appropriate persons to determine what is best for the livestock placed in their care. They’ve earned it.