Driving down the road, most people pass by pastures and glance at cattle nonchalantly just as they do any livestock. “Oh, look there’s a herd, aren’t those babies cute?” But I have found that every cow, steer, heifer, bull and calf I get introduced to has a unique personality. Just like people, some like to be hugged and patted and some don’t want you to get within 10 feet of them. Some get mad easy when you try to make them move (I know I do), some just want to do the right thing and get back to chewing their cud and some get excited and think it’s a good opportunity to run, kick and play. But mostly, they just tolerate you because they know where their feed comes from…
As I got to know the cattle, the hardest part was knowing where their life’s journey would take them — in the end, they are destined to become beef. I wrestled with that as I looked into their big brown eyes and they would innocently bat their eyelashes at me. I can’t say that I don’t have heart pangs when a cow that has been in the herd for years has to go to the big pasture in the sky or when that steer I raised on a bottle gets loaded into the trailer and carted off to the feed lot to be primed for the supermarket. But for the most part, I have come to terms with what we as ranchers do.
Just as farmers raise crops, cattle are our crop that we contribute to the food supply to help sustain people. And just as farmers plant and grow seeds that would not develop into harvestable commodities if it weren’t for their hard work, today’s domestic cattle would not have an opportunity to live and thrive if it wasn’t for ranchers. Domestic cattle are raised for a single purpose — producing beef. It is unlikely that domestic cattle would survive in the wild without human intervention.
I don’t wish to argue the point of whether people should eat meat, I believe that is for each individual to decide. But I do believe that to eat humanely raised and slaughtered animals as well as harvesting animals from the wild is ethical and an important component to our humanity. I know that many others agree with me as the market for beef remains strong. Without the consumer demand for beef there would be no reason to raise cattle.
The only gripe I have with consumer demand of any animal meat is that some people like to think it “comes from the grocery store.” Yes, it’s sold at the grocery store, but an animal’s life was taken so that we can eat, and I think that needs to be acknowledged and the animal appreciated on some level.
My husband and I don’t take the responsibility of raising cattle lightly. We love our cows like we love the land and respect them as God’s gift to us. We feel that it is our job to make sure that while the cattle are in our care, they receive the best life possible. We feed them well, monitor them constantly, keep them healthy and make their time on our ranch as enjoyable as possible. We care as much about their contentment as we do their health. We also care about the end product we are producing.
Our goal is to produce high quality beef cattle while using good practices that preserve a high quality of life for livestock while being good stewards of all property resources, leaving the property in better condition
than when we received it for future generations and wildlife, while creating a sustainable, primary family income.