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Two articles on animal welfare from Bernie Rollin. He is referring to practices in North America for the most part, though of course there is a lot of overlap between management there and elsewhere. We do not often see such strongly pro animal welfare articles in publications like Drovers.
Animal Welfare: Ranching Traditions
Bernie Rollin. Drovers | March 07, 2017
One salient example of ranching traditions that are in need of an update are surgical mutilations, sanctified by convenience and tradition. Anesthesia is rarely used for these procedures and analgesia, virtually never. (There are no analgesics approved for use in food animals.) This is very ironic, because it is generally acknowledged that the branch of animal agriculture that has most strongly resisted transformation to an industrial approach is the cow–calf component of beef production, most famously instantiated in Western North American extensive ranching.
As devoted to pursuing a way of life as to making a living, Western ranchers strongly adhere to an ethic of animal husbandry. For example, of the approximately 20,000 ranchers all over the US and Canadian West that I have addressed on ethics and animal welfare, well over 90%, in fact, closer to 100%, have spent more money and time on saving a marginal, sick calf than the calf is worth in strictly economic terms. When asked to explain this putatively economically irrational decision, ranchers will invoke their moral obligations to the animals under their aegis.
Yet shortly after the birth of a calf, the same ranchers will brand, dehorn, castrate, and vaccinate these animals with no pain control. How can this be reconciled with the ethic of animal husbandry, both historically and today?
Animal Welfare: Management and Avoidance of Pain
Bernie Rollin, Drovers | March 8, 2017
Ironically, the acceleration of modern technology that created confinement agriculture can also be utilized to replace painful management practices. When challenged by ranchers to provide them with an alternative to branding, a group of us at Colorado State University created digitized retinal images of cow retinas, images with more data points than human fingerprints (Golden and Shadduck, 2000).
Similarly, cattlemen could employ other biometric identifiers or electronic forms of identification such as microchips, given that all such methods provide permanent, unalterable forms of identification. These biometric and electronic forms of identification provide the additional advantage of facilitating trace–back in the event of disease outbreak.
In addition, branding does not prevent cattle theft. In many places, in remote areas, rustlers will drive to ranches with a truck, cut fences, slaughter cattle, and steal them as boxed beef. Inherently conservative, ranchers have resisted moving to alternative methods of identification in spite of the overwhelming evidence that hot–iron branding is extremely painful (Schwartzkopf et al., 1997).
If asked to justify the infliction of a third–degree burn morally, cowboys will cite the trade–off involved in living extensively in exchange for a short–term burn pain. However, in addition to the cost to the animal in terms of pain, there is an actual monetary cost to the industry. Branding has been estimated to cost the Canadian beef industry $3.57 per head or $9.5 million per year due to hide damage (Schwartzkopf–Genswein, 2000).
Sheep and Beef Industry Welcome Progress Towards FTA
Scoop | March 9, 2017
Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association welcome the successful completion of joint scoping discussions towards an EU – NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) announced by Minister McClay in Brussels.
Trade liberalisation, including through FTAs, creates a stable and level playing field on which to compete and it's hugely important to the growth and future prosperity of the sheep and beef sector and New Zealand as a whole, the two organisations say.
"The completion of the scoping discussions is a significant step towards launching FTA negotiations this year," said Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
The European Union is a very important market for New Zealand red meat products, worth over NZ$1.8 billion in the year ended December 2016.
4 Habits of Successful Cattlemen
Amanda Radke, Beef Magazine | March 14, 2017
As a writer who focuses on the cattle business, I frequently have the opportunity to interview a wide variety of influential people in the beef industry. When visiting with these folks, it's interesting to learn more about what makes them tick, what steps they took to advance their careers and the little things they do to be successful in this business.
Over the years, I've realized that successful cattlemen have a few things in common. I've identified the four common traits of these individuals, and I try to practice these in my own ranching enterprise.
1. Hustle: Efficiency is the key to advancing yourself.
2. Continued education: Learning shouldn't stop once your school days are over. Take advantage of educational opportunities as they arise.
3. Passion: There's no doubt about it — the cattle business isn't for the faint of heart. The risk, time commitment, market swings, weather—all are factors to make this a challenging industry to be a part of. When the going gets tough, remind yourself why you're so passionate about this business in the first place.
4. Goals: What are your short– and long–term goals for your business? Is everyone in the family on board to help you achieve those goals? Make it a habit to regularly review your one–year, five–year and 10–year plans to ensure that you're constantly striving for something.
Lab–Grown Meat Edges Closer to Stores with 'Clean' Poultry Achieved
Gordon Hung, Silicon Republic | March 15, 2017
Lab–grown beef is so 2016. The here and now is all about lab–grown poultry, with not a battery cage in sight.
Memphis Meats is going down a different route. Based in the US, Memphis Meats is developing methods to produce meat directly from animal cells, "without the need to feed, breed or slaughter animals".
The company originally had a three–year plan to get its 'sustainable' meat into restaurants though, well into its second year, that looks unlikely. However, its five–year plan to get its lab–grown meat to your local store is still on, especially now that its first 'clean poultry' dishes have been developed – a full 12 months after the beef equivalents.
"It is thrilling to introduce the first chicken and duck that didn't require raising animals. This is a historic moment for the clean meat movement," said Uma Valeti, co–founder and CEO of Memphis Meats.
"Chicken and duck are at the centre of the table in so many cultures around the world, but the way conventional poultry is raised creates huge problems for the environment, animal welfare and human health. It is also inefficient.
"We aim to produce meat in a better way, so that it is delicious, affordable and sustainable.
Scottish Cattle Herd at Lowest Level Since the 1950s
Gemma Mackenzie, Press and Journal | March 17, 2017
The number of cattle on Scottish farms and crofts has reached its lowest level since the 1950s, according to figures in the latest farm census.
Results from the Scottish Government's December Agricultural Survey reveal a 1.4% decline in cattle numbers to 1.71million, which is 3.5% lower than the 10–year average of 1.77million.
Beef cattle numbers were down 3,600 to 420,900, while the number of dairy cows decreased by 2,600 to 174,400.
The national sheep flock increased in size to 5.04million, while the number of pigs increased by 11% to 368,000. There was also growth in the poultry sector, with a 19% increase in broiler numbers thanked for the 7% increase in total bird numbers to 14.4million.
NFU Scotland vice–president Martin Kennedy said the decrease in beef cattle numbers highlighted the difficulty the sector faced in maintaining numbers.
"It shows the need for continued targeted support either directly or indirectly to the largest part of our industry," said Mr Kennedy.
The union's livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam blamed the reduction on higher costs, tighter carcase specifications and a reduction on the maximum value a carcase can achieve.
He said: "There isn't enough profit, if any, in beef production without support. At current levels of support, it will take a lot more than efficiency improvements to change the fortunes of beef production – it needs market prices to rise substantially."