This is an opinion article written by Trent Loos. Email your opinion article: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a sixth generation United States farmer, I have had my fill of people talking about “humanely raised meat” when they don’t have a clue.
As a person who, in my 48 years on this earth, has provided daily care for more than 1 million animals, I think I am qualified to address the topic. The real experts in animal welfare are the farmers and ranchers who actually brave the elements of Mother Nature and get the job done.
Today is a great day to talk about how misguided the concept of “humanely raised meat” that folks like Chipotle are presenting to the public.
The only thing that is “humane” about rearing livestock for human consumption is the farmers and ranchers themselves. There is NOTHING else humane about it. Look the word up in the dictionary if you don’t follow my drift.
At midnight last night, I was still assisting a sow in the farrowing house by helping a couple of smaller, weak pigs get a good start.
By 5:30 am I was back in the farrowing building but the walk to get there was tough. It was 17 degrees with a 30 mph North wind and 8-10 inches of fresh snow.
Inside the farrowing barn, the sows and pigs were content in the farrowing crates and the temperature was a comfortable 74 degrees. They have no idea what it is like outside.
After completing the inside chores, I started the tough job of providing the feed and water needs to the outside hogs that have access to a bedded shed and the outdoors.
Here you can see the sows that live in the environment that some think is ideal. On the other hand, if I were a sow I would choose to live inside where I did not need to pile on top of another pig to protect myself from the howling wind.
Pigs can be managed by good herdsmen to thrive in any type of environment. The farmer, not some pencil pusher in his/her comfortable cubical, should make that decision.
For the non-farm folks today, their romantic notion of pig rearing with access to outdoors and bedding is exactly the way my grandfather raised pigs in 1950.
What other single thing in life do you do like anybody did in 1950? From banking to communicating to driving to acquiring information. Not one single thing today is really like it was in 1950 yet we are told that farming and livestock production should be and we are also expected to feed a population that was unheard of in that era.
Why should we raise animals in “retro-style”? Certainly not because the animals demand it. Give the sow the choice and she will choose a crate inside a building 100 times out of 100.
So after a couple hours of plowing snow, feeding and watering I make my way back into the temperature controlled farrowing building where another sow has 11 wonderfully active warm pigs that required ZERO assistance.
If that sow was in a pen with bedding and access to outside as demanded for “humane care”, there would be nothing there but a pile of dead pigs. Thanks to the advancements in modern pig rearing, I have a healthy litter of bacon makers on the way.
In closing, I am asking that people stop referring to “humanely raised” milk, meat or eggs unless they are talking about the very animal husbandry that the farmer knows best how to provide.
The Chipotles of the world can sell their pig in a blanket, but let the farmer worry about keeping the live pigs warm.
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