Animal care is my responsibility

By Justin Dauer

I’m often puzzled by the notion that livestock are abused in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

I know some of that sentiment is generated by images seen on television or the internet of animal mistreatment. Just to set the record straight, I think anyone who abuses livestock should be out of the business. I do not condone abuse of any animal for any reason. Neither do the other farmers and ranchers I know.

But I can tell you about the welfare of my livestock.

My name is Justin Dauer, and I’m a fifth-generation farmer and rancher. My family raises cattle, corn, grain sorghum and cotton on the windswept plains of the Texas Panhandle.

The welfare of my livestock is a top priority each and every day. My family depends on the income generated from our cattle operation. I need a productive herd to make a profit. Although there is no room for shortcuts, there is room for good management.

And good management is what pays my bills and keeps meat in the supermarket for you at an affordable price.

So what is good management? On my ranch, it is:

  • Helping a mother cow who has trouble giving birth—even when the temperature is below zero with a howling wind.
  • Bringing an orphan calf home and sheltering it in the garage or utility room to give it an even chance for life.
  • Providing proper nutrition and plentiful water for my cows and calves.
  • Managing my herd numbers to where they do not overburden the land.
  • Checking my herd each and every day to make sure they are healthy. I give them vaccines to prevent disease. In the rare case that one gets sick, I call in the vet.

Healthy, fat calves are how I make my money. I need healthy bulls and mother cows to produce those calves.

No, my cattle are not treated as pets. Their purpose is to produce beef.

Good management keeps my cattle healthy and productive, providing income for my family and supplying a source of affordable, high-quality protein for yours.

Do you have questions about ranching in Texas? If so, leave a comment and let’s start a discussion.

The above post is from Justin Dauer, a Texas farmer and rancher from Panhandle, Texas. Justin is one of five guest bloggers who is talking about food and farming during Texas Food Connection Week, sponsored by Texas Farm Bureau Feb. 17-23.

Amanda Hill

Associate Editor of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
Amanda Hill aspires to be as good a cook as her momma and grandmothers, but she still has a long way to go. All attempts—good and bad—are tested by her patient and kind husband, who rarely gives a negative review. Contact Amanda at ahill@txfb.org or follow Amanda on Twitter.

2 Responses to “Animal care is my responsibility”

  1. Good job Mr. Dauer. If everyone in the animal industries behaved as you say you do, it would be ideal. Unfortunately that is too often not the case and those are the operations exploited by anti-industry factions and where they dip their broad brush to paint the entire industry the same.

    For example, as much as you say Mr. Dauer that you despise and prevent animal welfare issues in your operation–a very commendable management plan–you certainly are aware of others who are not only operating with less than with standard practices but in your words, “…should be out of business.” The question is, how many of these have you reported? How many have been reported by the stockmen’s associations or even booted from such associations? And to turn the finger back on my professional arena; how many have local veterinarians reported to law enforcement for known, obvious, and sustained substandard practices? How many veterinarians have divorced themselves from such clients? Until the industries and veterinary profession actively pursue improvement through culling (a process you know well) of these enterprises; not much will change.

    Here’s what will happen though. At some point, just as it has happened with the layer/egg industry, anti-industry factions will walk away from trying to change the minds of the production ends’ bad actors. Instead, they will much more easily and cost-effectively change the minds of the retail giants. If McDonald’s says they will only buy eggs or pork produced a certain way; the industry must follow or die. So imagine big beef wholesalers/packers/retailers doing the same. Imagine if tomorrow you must raise your beef to meet say, Whole Foods Market Animal Welfare standards, to have it be considered for sale to a big packer who’s been told to do so by a big retailer? Want to see your product sell to Safeway, Wal-Mart, the military, or the National School Lunch Program, then it must be raised accordingly.

    Some cattle operations are already there. Some will get there if a cost-effective phase in is negotiated before mandates. Some never will be competent and yet they will be tolerated as they hide behind a cloak of liberty and individualism steeped in the Code of the West. In fact, poor production practices in my opinion are among the most unpatriotic, create the most problems for all commerce, and are of course, the poorest conditions for an animal to exist in. They are a lightning rod for animal rights activism and irresponsible, knee-jerk, legislation and consumer driven mandates that impair all.

    I am the Public Information Officer for Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Public Information Director for the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association. I serve on the state’s Bovine Issues Working Group and I have no vested interest in any brand mentioned here as examples. And finally, I am squarely in animal agriculture’s corner and make these comments exclusively to encourage the betterment and sustained business and commerce of the animal industries.

    Again, keep up the good work Mr. Dauer and work with similar producers to take that next important step of reporting and expulsion.

    • Thank you for reading and for your comment, Charlie. We appreciate your professional opinion. Texas Farm Bureau and many other respected agriculture organizations do not condone anything other than proper animal care. Justin’s thoughts represent the views of a majority of our farmers and ranchers here in Texas.

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