With the Generations
years come and the years go. Men age and boys grow. The
cattle herds of yesteryear, their lineage and the propensity
represented are now barely a memory. Old books tell the stories
of the truly functional family cow while others warn of impending
danger and tragedy if the then current rate of natural resource
exploitation is continued.
new generation returns to the farm or ranch, ushered in with an
abundance of knowledge regarding the latest animal science, research
and funded by profit driven, greed riddled corporations. Our sons
and daughters earn their college education and are anxious to take
things over and push the herd to supposed new heights with their book
knowledge and learning. Dad is old fashioned now and his
knowledge and wisdom couldn’t possibly fit the picture any
years later, reality sets in when the over-vaccinated cows keep getting
sick, the TMR ration can’t keep weight on them or their milk production
consistent. Healthy calves seem to die for no reason, and
mastitis has taken another quarter. “Why didn’t dad and grandpa
have these troubles,” they ask. The struggling, college-educated
rancher begins to look back in an attempt to understand the knowledge
that passed before him.
this time the boy has become a man, grandfather is gone, and the dad to
too old to be active. The next generation has again left for the
universities, so the man is left to fend for himself.
becomes increasingly difficult for him to glean the necessary
information to manage a sustainable cattle operation. The cycle
repeats itself as the concept of working with nature and wisdom of
years gone by is buried with those old books and old men. And
now, the grip of science-guided, supplier-bound agriculture gets
tighter and tighter with barely enough room to breathe.
What is truly sad about this scenario is that we have now experienced
3, even 4 generations of what I consider a regressive and detrimental
approach to food production. Can we ever recover?
breed popularities, fabricated numbers, misguided information,
hybridized breeding, and government crop subsidies have heavily
influenced the American cattle industry for the past 75 years.
it is, cattle that would normally stay fat and healthy on green grass
and good hay, nourish families with wholesome and healthy meat and milk
as God intended, are now steadily transformed into what has become
starch dependent, mongrelized production machine that produces food
that tastes like cardboard and causes heart disease and numerous other
health problems. We have completely lost the notion that we were
producing; food that would feed and nourish our babies, grow strong and
lean teenagers, fuel busy adults, and restore good health to the
sick. It seems as though we have lost sight of the cycle of life
beneath the ground, the magic of minerals and photosynthesis, of cattle
spending their entire life doing what comes naturally – grazing.
cattle producers are equipped with an arsenal of un-naturals to ward of
diseases and treat what have become common, everyday ailments to the
animals God gave us. Breeding for sick-free cattle is nearly
non-existent. I have spoken with a handful of older cattlemen
friends who talk about the pre-1960s and claim they never had to doctor
a calf for sickness while it was still nursing from its mother.
Today it is common practice and even required that our animals be shot
full of vaccines. What have we done?
prey on the sick, weak and deceased. Therefore, in addition to
all the vaccines, it is considered “normal” to put chemicals in or on
our cattle twice a year to combat these ravenous scavengers. “Why
are they there in the first place” one should ask? This protocol
for “chemical rescue” animal health management is what is being taught
to our aspiring young men and women. Instead of books and “head
knowledge,” they should be taught true husbandry skills of working with
nature to create conditions that promote health, beginning with the
soil. I know for myself, I would rather not eat meat from any
animal that was ever sick during its lifespan. In today’s meat
market, this would rule out the vast majority of the animals that are
put in the grocery store coolers for human consumption. My
friends, this should not be.
forefathers left us with 8-10 breeds of cattle that are adapted to
various environments across America. Unfortunately, we pay little
attention to the positive effects of breeding, good herd management,
and feeding practices, along with the times when we had a standard of
healthy eating and nutritional value in the meat and milk being
the name of progress, the Jersey, once cherished for her high (5-6%)
butterfat milk, turned into a 20,000# milking machine but with only
2-2.5% butterfat. The Holstein, now a freak that wouldn’t survive
on her own, pushes out upwards towards 30,000# a milk in a year and
then burns out before she reaches her fifth birthday. The
Guernsey cow hasn’t readily molded to fit in with the “milk check”
economy, so she’s lost favor and today is almost non-existent.
dairy industry has been turned into a feedlot system whereby commodity
subsidized grain is funneled through the bovine and sold back to the
consumer in the form of a white liquid they label “milk.” With
today’s science and technology, man still hasn’t been able to formulate
a ration that can sustain a cow for very long without her natural diet
of grass and sunshine. The meat and milk that comes from animals
managed in a confinement system isn’t fit for human consumption.
One reason is the imbalance of the omega 6 to omega 3 essential fatty
acids - the consequence of a high starch diet.
butterfat milk with the correct nutritional components is critical for
optimal health in the developing and growing calf. Fat in the
milk coats the lining of the calf’s esophagus and gut, which prevents
bacteria and other disease causing organisms from entering the blood
stream. Fat is important for the proper development of the
nervous system which is the circuitry for the digestive system,
endocrine (gland) system, and immune function, etc. Mother’s milk
keeps the calf healthy and vigorous while his system develops the
ability to ruminate and utilize grass. It can take up to 10
months from the time a calf is born for it to realize all the benefits
of a fully functioning rumen.
this natural fat out of a calf’s diet and see what happens.
Compare dairy calves that have access to full fat milk from their
mothers to those that are fed a rationed diet made from powdered milk
replacer. The differences are tremendous and are noticeable to
even the most novice of observers.
this quest for high milk production, we have actually changed the
physiology of the cow to where she will sacrifice her own body
condition (loose fat cells and muscle mass) before she stops producing
milk. Increased production has resulted in lowered butterfat, but
the genetic requirement for optimum nutrition has not changed and it is
the young that suffer the most with malnutrition, sickness, disease and
even death. The dairy calf at two days old is taken from its
mother and put on a milk replacer (dehydrated whey) for two
months. The bone and frame structure of the calf is deprived of
adequate nutrition as well as its muscle development. The
foundation for creating fat cells happens only at this stage in a young
animal’s life and that potential reservoir of available energy is what
gets an adult animal through the tough times. When there is no
extra energy for a growing calf to build those fat cells, that animal
is and will remain a high maintenance animal for the rest of its life.
butterfat of the average beef cow is 2% (some even less) and her milk
production is in the 4,000# range. That, my friend, is not enough
energy to grow a calf and have it build the necessary fat cells for the
type of production that utilizes grass. Not only that, it’s the
low butterfat cows (less then 4%) whose calves get sick with E. coli
scours, pink eye, or pneumonia. It’s those low butterfat cows
that are difficult to bred back.
back a few generations - the beef cow then was bred to produce a
minimum of 4% butterfat. Whether they realized butterfat or not,
those farmers knew what cows gave the best milk for good calves that
made good food for the table. It takes that amount of butterfat
in the cow’s milk to start that fat cell production during that
critical period in a calf’s development. It takes that amount to
garnish a carcass with quality, tender, fine textured
we don’t get paid in today’s market place for quality. Therefore,
it’s no wonder we do not look at our animals as a gene pool worth
improving or protecting. How did we get into this
condition? One answer follows.
commodity grain, feedlot and food processing industry has so
deceptively and cleverly influenced and guided the farmer into
producing an overabundance of corn and soybeans so that their raw
materials stay cheap and profit margins high. The government farm
subsidy program fits right into that plan.
costs of production and dwindling profit margins for the grower keeps
him or her increasingly dependent on those subsidy payments. For
farmers to stay in business, they must increase those subsidy checks,
which mean increase production (pounds, bushels, and tons). In
turn, those that do not direct market (which is the vast majority) are
driven to produce the animals that will consume all the grain. In
turn, the results are an undetected transformation away from
grass-based genetics and nutritionally balanced food.
industry monarchy decides what prices are paid to the grower/farmer,
which is not based on cost of production, and keeps them at a rate just
high enough to keep him producing. The gruesome reality and
unfortunate truth of the matter is that most, if not all, of the food
produced by this model is NOT what God intended for our bodies.
It is tax dollars, both yours and mine, that keep this ill-fated cycle
cannot put the burden of turning things around solely on our young boys
and girls coming through the university system. The problems
began before our sons and daughters were put in the driver seats.
we must do is stop focusing on working for the almighty dollar?
our goal becomes quality and we band together to market our products
then and only then will we fairly compensated. We must be “debt
free” to leverage every opportunity. Experience is the best
classroom. History is the best teacher. Without health
there is little chance for happiness. Let us look back at what
experience and our forefathers have taught us and move forward with
what we know is “the right thing to do”.
are our brother’s keeper and the health and prosperity of our nation
depends on it.