Have Beef Producers Lost the Animal Rights Battle?

Change is inevitable, right? It’s even good?
Dave Daley, a rancher on a multigeneration California cattle operation and an animal science professor at California State University at Chico, has come to the time-to-change conclusion about the animal welfare issue. He gives a presentation to beef producers titled “Why We Lost the Battle on Animal Welfare.”
“Maybe that’s too strong, that we lost,” he confesses. “Let me put it this way: We don’t understand changing consumer attitudes. What you and I grew up doing and accepting as normal is not as acceptable anymore. It doesn’t mean we’re wrong; we just need to do a better job of explaining ourselves.”
Daley uses a 10-point checklist of cattle-industry attitudes and how they could change. Following are four examples.
1. Science gives us all the answers. “I’m a scientist, and I think we need science behind our practices,” Daley says. “It doesn’t give us all the answers, and it doesn’t solve the ethical questions.” Rather, he continues, most people want to hear from you, the farmer. “They will trust you before the science.”
2. We have to defend all of agriculture. Typically, when any part of ag is attacked, we circle the wagons. Daley doesn’t join in. For instance, the pork and poultry industries have taken heavy criticism about extreme close confinement in cages and stalls. “I don’t want to tell other farmers what to do, but I don’t defend it, either. I simply tell people we’re learning new practices and moving to better systems all the time,” he says.
3. All talk, no listen. We don’t hear animal activists because we are shouting at them or, worse, making fun of them. “If you laugh at their questions and concerns, you’ve insulted them. You’ll never have their trust,” he says.
4. If you don’t agree with me, you must be stupid, evil, or both. Good people can look at the same issue differently. Consider the players in today’s cattle industry – grass-fed, natural, organic, or traditional – and how we sometimes malign each other. “Aren’t we all beef producers?” he asks. “Do we believe free enterprise and the marketplace work? Let it sort itself out.”
Find more of Daley’s points at csuchico.edu/ag.
Grazing Tips From Unlikely Sources
Did you know Yogi Berra, the Yankee catcher known for his confounding wit, had things to say about forage principles?
Just ask Garry Lacefield. The University of Kentucky forage expert and four of his colleagues offer some wit and common sense in a new book called Forage-Livestock Quotes and Concepts. It cites 120 familiar quotes and gives them a forage-minded spin. 
So how did Yogi Berra get in there? The book’s authors say it was his most famous quote: “You can observe a lot just by watching.” This holds true for pasture growth.
“Deposits of dung and urine result in spots where plants exhibit increased growth and a darker green color,” the authors note. “When such spots are conspicuous, it should give you a clue regarding the growth response that would occur if the right type and amount of fertilizer is applied.”
Mark Twain is in the book, too. He is quoted as saying, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
That, says this book, is about harvesting alfalfa hay. “About 1∕10 bloom is a long-standing rule for compromise among quality, stored energy, and regrowth, but the hay will not meet some market demands of highest quality. Harvesting earlier requires having a good understanding of the facts and knowing the consequences,” the authors say.
Another quote, “Shape matters,” is about pasture shape. “The length of fence to go around a 1-acre pasture in various shapes includes a circle (744 feet), a square (836 feet), a rectangle (888 feet), and an equal-sided triangle (951 feet). The ultimate undesirable example would be a 1-acre paddock with a width of 1 foot and a length of 43,560 feet. The distance around it would be 87,122 feet.”
Buy the book for $4.95 at foragequotebook.com.

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