Slanker's critters are NOT raised in feedlots and buildings; they are always raised outside on grass. The reason we keep them on grass is to make sure the critters we raise will always make a perfectly nutritious meal. Since the foundation food for all animal life is the green leaf, the most destructive aspect of the feedlot business is that its primary foodstuff is grain!
When it comes to animal abuse I want to make it perfectly clear that other than being fed grain, most animals are not being abused in feedlots for several reasons. Number one is that all farm animals have a herd instinct. They like being in the company of their peers. It actually gives them great comfort in that they feel more secure being in the herd or flock. Two, all animals love welfare. If they have "sweet" feed and clean water close by day after day, that eliminates their next great concern. Unbeknownst to them, though, is the next benefit. That is healthcare and protection from the environment. Feedlot managers are healthcare fanatics. Every sick animal costs money. Every death represents a total loss. Also, animals in confinement are less vulnerable to the vagaries of nature and predators.
For some odd reason we keep hearing all these horror stories about animal abuse. I call it odd because to believe those stories and assume that they are the norm in argriculture is crazy. Animal abuse is not tolerated by anyone who dedicates his life to raising livestock. Sure there are always rogues in every profession. So just like in the general population of people where some abuse other people, there are bad apples in the ranching game. But for a fact there are way more bad people abusing people than bad people abusing livestock.
As mentioned above, the most damaging aspect of the conventional livestock business is that grain is an accepted feed. And in feedlots grain is the feed of choice. But feedlots are no worse than the typical American city. In cities people live shoulder to shoulder and their primary food is grain, grain-based foods, and grain-fed livestock products. Consequently, the typical American treats himself, his family members, his friends, and business associates and customers worse than feedlots treat their livestock. I say worse because they do it for their entire lives rather than just in a "finishing phase."
So, for those folks who want to go around pointing fingers and accusing anyone and everyone associated with agriculture of heinous deeds, maybe they should do a little soul searching themselves. In addition, I recommend that if they are so concerned about livestock treatment and how food is raised, that instead of complaining about folks in agriculture, they should go out and raise ALL their own food. Let's see if they can do as well as the American farmer and rancher who is currently feeding 316,000,000 million people a day -- three times a day.
Raising chickens in buildings is efficiency at it highest level. When the day-old chicks are first introduced to the chicken house it's a very pleasing sight. The chicks are on clean litter and they have a lot of room to run. Seven weeks later, the birds have matured and It's not a very pretty sight for sure in comparison to chickens on the loose. (It's the mature stage pictures the detractors always show.) But once again the housed chickens are pretty content being on welfare. Friends, food, water, and a controlled environment are provided. They do not have to be concerned about predators. We raise chickens in a totally free range environment without pens or fencing. Plus we feed them nothing! That way they live in a 100% green plant world wandering about the ranch wherever they please. During the 2008 - 2009 season we lost 90% of our birds to predators. In most cases they were eaten alive. So I suppose some folks could say we abuse our chickens in a free range environment compared to a controlled housing environment where a 5% death loss is considered high.
I've presented this viewpoint for all to see because it's the untold story. In the ranching business perfection is an elusive goal. So here our production focus is to be as close to nutritional perfection as we can be. In addition, we must be economic. If we can't pay our bills, pay our employees a decent wage, and end up with a comfortable income in the end, then we are not sustainable.
Obviously, since we are no longer in the mainstream of agricultural mass production, our costs are higher. But we are still part of the agricultural community. And we will not tolerate anyone who accuses us or any of our conventional friends of being abusive to livestock. It's an insult every time we hear it. Even though my conventional friends may feed grain and eat grain themselves, they are not inherently bad people. They just don't get it yet. So they are no different than 99.9% of all grain-fed Americans -- except for one major difference. Folks in agriculture have dedicated themselves to a trade whereby they rarely make enough money to justify their efforts. They do it because they love the life, the animals, the outdoors, and the rewards of being able to say they are part of the tiny little army that feeds all America.
So if you are one of those folks who complain about the people in agriculture, I advise you to think before you talk. Many people have a full belly and a mouthful of food from these folks, yet they complain about the very people who keep them fed. Talk about abuse The folks in agriculture don't deserve it -- not one bit.
The really big National Disgrace is the ignorance level of the general population regarding how their foods are raised and what is and is not nutritious food. Man invented grain farming and in the process concocted a foreign food to all animal life -- even his own. It is grain that causes so much chronic disease. I call it The Atomic Bomb of the American Food System. The most horrible aspect of this is that nearly 100% of all Americans feed grain to their children. That's really disgraceful The consumer rules, so if he wants change he is the one who must change. Change cannot be legislated or forced from the top down. If consumers want change, they have to vote for it in the marketplace with their pocketbooks. Already there are far more livestock producers in the United States who are willing to provide the world's finest, most nutritious meats than there are people who are willing to go out of their way to get it and also pay for it. The holdout consumers would rather feed junk to their children than change. That is the real National Disgrace.