My Generation

Real Life in the Livestock Business

The bottom line isn't all that's hurt when an animal is hurting.

There are days when the livestock business isn't much fun. And this is one of them.

 

It's when you arrive at the point where great expectations and real life come crashing into each other. When medicine isn't cutting it and you can't do anything about it. The fact is, we have two cows out in the barn right now who aren't going to make it. They've been sick, we've doctored and bandaged and cared and the vet says they won't get any better. They're suffering and we don't want that. One is close to calving; the other is a ways off. Now we're faced with the very unpleasant decision of putting them down and attempting to save the one calf.

 

That's bad enough on paper, but it's worse in real life because the most humane way to put a cow down is to shoot her. And the thing is, a real cattleman isn't in the livestock business for the fun of it. They do it because they love the cattle. And when that cattleman is faced with actually having to put a gun to his animal's head, it's a difficult thing.

 

By the end of the day, two good young cows will no longer be with us. With any degree of luck, the calf will make it and will become a bottle calf for our 7-year-old – potentially, the only upside to this whole thing. And she'll be out there with a bottle for him several times a day, for weeks and weeks.

 

And as all this goes on in the barn, I see here on my computer where once again, the ill-informed among us are working hard to convince the world that farmers don't take good care of their livestock. They're so wrong. So wrong.

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