May 2010 Archives
I think it is important that North American cattlemen keep those livestock numbers up to avoid the risk of another Ice Age.
I’m still on the fence when it comes to issue of Global Warming – is it happening? Why is it happening? And so on… But a recent article I read says it was the demise of the wooly mammoth, due to human predators, that led to a major deep freeze nearly 13,000 years ago.
How researchers figure this stuff out, I don’t know – and really who can argue with them since there are no eye witnesses left. But, researchers say it was the herds of belching and farting mammoths, releasing methane gas, trapped in the atmosphere, that kept the climate warm.
When two-legged predators reached the Americas about 13,000 years ago, the mammoth began to disappear and as far as I know became extinct – although I haven’t traveled much around the Prince Albert area of Saskatchewan, so there could be some up there.
The demise of the mammoth triggered what was known as the Younger Dryas cold event. That lasted about 1,300 years, until the Canadian Angus Association began its marketing program.
A couple things come to mind. First, how many of these six tonne beasts were roaming over North America, and second, how hungry were these people? If there were enough mammoths to affect global climate, even with only a 50 per cent carcass yield, that would represent one hell of a pile of burgers at the caveman campout.
The researchers figure as mammoth numbers declined, mammoth methane production dropped from 10 trillion grams per year, to just a few embarrassing releases around the pre-historic watering hole. That cleared the atmosphere and triggered a deep chill.
So if we are going to learn from history, let’s keep those livestock numbers up. Current statistics show there are about 1.5 billion head of cattle in the world, including about 100 million head in the U.S. and 14 million head in Canada.
Sure, there may not be a lot of money to be made in keeping the critters around these days, but I think we have to look at the bigger good for society. If we don’t keep those cattle numbers up, we’d better be prepared to break out the blankets.
If we really want to get these ‘sickos’ who slaughter horses for meat-sale profit off the street, the only real, long lasting solution is an outright ban on breeding and ownership of any class of horse in North America by anyone– unless you are a card-carrying member of the Amish community.
The value of or need for the original, four-footed equus-type horsepower has been steadily declining since the first internal-combustion engine was developed more than 120 years ago. We no longer need horses.
If the figures from animal welfare groups are correct (and it would be hard to believe they would be exaggerated) Canadian horse slaughter plants process about 100,000 head per year. And that is not a one-time deal. That is year after year. So to me, year after year we have 100,000 head of unwanted horses being produced somewhere, that end up on the kill floor of horse plants.
And I’ve haven’t run into one commercial ranching operation over the past 25 years in the ag reporting business that raises herds of horses just for slaughter. (I wonder if that has anything to do with the economics?) So again I am assuming the majority of these slaughter horses are coming by ones and fours from the beaten to the nubs, two-acre paddocks of hobby farmers and acreage owners who “really love horses, but no body rides them anymore,” or “we bought a new motor home and want to do more traveling, so we don’t have time for them” or “geez, they are expensive to keep”.
When you look at the whole meat industry, I find it interesting to note that beef animals, pigs and poultry all go to packing or processing plants. Horses, however, go to “slaughter” houses. Horses are slaughtered. Apparently they skip the packing and processing stage and are just slaughtered.
According to animal welfare/rights groups who are usually able to present crystal clear, well-documented video footage, many of these animals are tortured before being slaughtered. I am sure that is a common practice in the beef processing sector too. I watched a high quality video the other day of someone trying to pickup a crippled beef animal at a packing plant with a front end loader. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. I’ve heard that most “packing plants” have a secret room where employees can go at lunch time for the always popular forklift flipping of downer cattle competition. It is usually in the same area as the cockfighting pits. It is important to keep workers entertained and happy.
If you’ve guessed my comments are somewhat sarcastic, you’re correct. As long as so called ‘horse lovers’ are producing boat loads of unwanted horses there is a need and a value for horse processing plants. Even well-cared for working horses come to the end of their day at some point, or circumstances change for well-meaning horse owners, and the animals have to go.
The point is what do you do with these animals, otherwise? If they are not processed, do you let them run wild on the Canadian prairie? Since people are farming there, maybe we should just have drop locations at National Parks. There is a lot of vacant land there no body uses. Let them live out the rest of their natural lives running free in Banff, or Grasslands or Riding Mountain national parks.
Horse processing plants need to be – and I believe are – properly managed, and properly inspected to ensure that animals are humanely cared for and handled right up to the final moment they are bolted. No system is perfect, so we need to always work to improve.
Rather than trying to close these plants, animal welfare/rights groups should be putting their resources into promoting horse spaying and castration programs, and educating hobby farmers about the misconception that every acre can support five easy-keepers.
If critics can reduce the flow of these unwanted horses to a trickle, these horse slaughter people may not disappear, but at least then they will stop murdering horses and get back to the core business, which is supplying kittens to lucrative Communist fur coat market.
Just kicking back in the office today, catching up on some reading and on the top of the pile is a new book called “Raising Goats for Dummies”.
I knew there was a series of these trademark bright yellow and black jacketed books on a wide range of topics, but I thought it was 15 or 20 titles about trying to figure out your computer, or specialty software, or genealogy or something. But if you go to the “Dummies” website (www.dummies.com)
there are hundreds of titles (about 1700 actually) on just about every imaginable business, entertainment, or lifestyle topic you can think of.
I saw ones called Arthritis for Dummies, Bath and Sink Refinishing for Dummies, Adoption for Dummies, Beagles for Dummies, even Pope John Paul II for Dummies. I guess for the slower learners there was one called “Sex for Dummies”, and right after that in the list – probably for those who were too enthusiastic about learning the previous topic, was “Divorce for Dummies”. So if you have no skill in just about any area I highly recommend you go to the Dummies website to see if there is a title there for the topic. (I didn’t see one on Raising Beef for Dummies – not sure what the hold up is there – maybe Pork Production for Dummies is ahead of them on the press).
Back to the goat book. The publisher for Cheryl K. Smith sent me this copy to review. Cheryl started with two Nigerian Dwarves (I assume they mean goats) in 1998 and has never looked back. She is a lawyer by training, and she has actually written several books on goat rearing and husbandry and the Raising Goats for Dummies is her latest. She lives and farms near Low Pass in the coast range of Oregon.
I see she also has a published paper on “What about legalized assisted suicide? : An article from: Issues in Law & Medicine”, maybe that is just in case the goat business doesn’t go so well. (But in all fairness and seriousness, I believe that is just a paper on the legal and ethical issues of the topic and really isn’t making the case pro or con and is certainly unrelated to raising goats).
I am not in the goat business and probably never will be (even though it is all my wife ever talks about is someday getting a herd of goats – as soon as the chinchillas are gone), but I would say if you ever wanted to get a couple goats or a whole herd, it is a very good book to begin with.
It is 325 pages long, easy to read, has some great illustrations and covers the A to Z topics, whether you want a couple goats for the yard, are looking to raise goats for a 4-H project, or want to get into the goat meat, milk and/or fibre business.
The various chapters describes different breeds, housing requirements on the farm, feed requirements, animal care, animal health, breeding, and kidding. And there are also sections about the business of selling meat and milking goats, as well as collecting and marketing fibre.
There is a short chapter on the 10 Misconceptions about Goats, which is interesting. It isn’t true that they eat everything, they don’t stink (except for the bucks at breeding season), they are smart, and the meat and milk taste good – are a few of the highlights. There is even a 14 page appendix with goat milk and meat recipes.
Raising Goats for Dummies by Cheryl K. Smith is available from many bookstores that carry the “Dummies” series. It is $24 Canadian. And you can also order it on-line through Chapters/Indigo Books.
Keep me posted on how you make out in the goat business.