Animal welfare: Consumers accept no excuses for livestock abuse

By Mike Barnett

Some in agriculture continue to be bewildered by assaults on livestock operations by animal rights groups. I’m not sure why. The activists’ goal of vegan lifestyles for everyone is no secret. As long as animals are mistreated, they’re going to be on the lookout with video cameras.

A harsh reality for Texas livestock producers is recent documentation by animal activists of young calves being knocked in the head with hammers and pickaxes.  This case of animal abuse has knocked another chunk out of farmer and rancher credibility.

Explanations have been offered for the incident which happened on a dairy calf feedlot in the Texas Panhandle. Extreme cold earlier this year had the owner hustling to feed and care for his calves. He had to immediately hire additional employees to help out.

Some of the calves suffered from extreme frostbite. They needed to be euthanized.

According to the owner, a rifle was available that day for a gunshot to the head—an accepted euthanasia procedure for cattle. The unacceptable practice of pickaxes and hammers was used by the new employees instead.

All of it was captured on video that was released by the animal rights activist group Mercy for Animals. The images were horrifying.

The owner of the operation has stepped up and accepted full responsibility, as he should. He and his ranch manager were charged last week with a Class A misdemeanor for cruelty to livestock. Five employees—long since gone—have been charged with state felony for cruelty to livestock.

Extenuating circumstance? Does it matter?

Ignorance? Does it matter?

Bad decision? Does it matter?

Consumers accept no excuses.

The real loser is the industry. One brief moment on one Texas operation—and other incidents across the nation—cause considerable trouble for all livestock producers.

Examine your operation. What kind of decisions are you making? Are you aware of how your employees treat livestock? Do you follow established protocols? Are you taking shortcuts?

We as individuals, and as an industry, need to do better jobs of tending to business. Proper care and treatment of livestock is of huge interest to consumers, and should be our number one concern as well.

It’s an individual responsibility, 24-7—not because a video camera might be watching—but because it’s the right thing to do.

Mike Barnett

Director of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
I’m a firm believer that farmers and ranchers will continue to meet the needs of a growing world population by employing equal measures of common sense, conservation and technology.
Follow Mike on Twitter and Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>