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The Reality of Feedlot Beef

If you purchase meat from the supermarket, do you have any idea what you are buying and serving? In some management systems, it starts with the calf being torn from its mother before it even gets its life-giving colostrum (first milk). A calf is born without an immune system and is entirely dependent upon the natural antibodies passed on from its mother in the colostrum.

One atrocity follows another. If newborn calves are sold off-farm, they are often subjected to lengthy transport in cold, drafty trailers, without water, feed, or maternal care. This stress can cause many illnesses in the animals which are then treated with antibiotics. Calves may also have "implants" put in them to stimulate abnormal hunger and faster growth, accompanied by more antibiotics and vaccinations. The antibiotics can range from "therapeutic" to constant dosages added to the feed. Milk substitutes, manufactured from many different ingredients including cattle blood and processed fats, are fed to these young animals.

When the animals are about twelve months old, they are sold to a feedlot.  There they are crowded into high-density pens where manure and muck accumulate quickly, as do the flies.  The smell is unbearable.  Young feeder calves, which typically spend their first months on pasture, are thrust into this inhospitable environment with hundreds or thousands of other highly stressed animals.  Their feed is altered drastically from grass to silage or grain-based rations laced with protein supplements from a variety of sources.  These can potentially include the above-mentioned slaughterhouse wastes (widely believed to be responsible for the spread of Mad Cow Disease).  This unnatural diet is very hard for cattle to digest, causing liver damage and weakened immune systems.  Antibiotics are routinely applied.

In many cases, manure is also "recycled" into the food, with plastic roughage substituted for hay or straw, as it can later be extracted from the manure and reused. Genetically modified stomach rumen may also be implanted into the cattle to allow them to eat quantities of grain that would normally kill them. Their backs are sprayed with organophosphate insecticides (the most persistent class of pesticides known) for pest control. This is another possible cause of Mad Cow Disease. Many animals get sick in this environment, and even die.

The cattle that reach finish weight, propped up with drugs and hormones, are slaughtered in huge commercial facilities.  There, after high-stress shipping, they are subjected to merciless conditions, often hearing and seeing animals being killed in front of them, causing even greater stress. This leads to the release of fear-related hormones which stay in the meat after slaughter causing it to be tough and to have a strong flavor. In this assembly line approach where efficiency is paramount, there have been many reported problems with intestinal tract contents contaminating meat leading to e-Coli outbreaks and product recalls. This is why these large-scale plants have pushed for radioactive irradiation of meat, eliminating the need for care and proper sanitation. Eventually this meat makes it to your supermarket display. 


Feedlot Beef

Possible Feed Ingredients:

Chlortetracycline, bacitracin, methylene disalicylate, erythromycin, tylocin oxytetracycline, sulfamethazine, ethlenediamine dihydroiodide, lasalocid sodium, monensin, melengestrol acetate, zeronal, testosterone, estradiol benaoate, progesterone, trenbolone acetate, sodium bicarbonate, polxaline, hydroxyzine, sodium bentonite, propionic acid, chicken manure, cattle manure, chocolate, stale pastry, cement dust, molasses, candy, urea, hooves, feathers, meat scraps, fish meal, pasta, peanut skins, brewery wastes, cardboard, corn silage, genetically modified grain, pesticides...

And who knows what is in the water they drink....

On the other hand…

Grass-fed Beef

Feed Ingredients:
Plenty of lush, green, chemical-free grass and forage and, in our case, revitalized Grander water.


What's with the Beef? - by Sara Schmidt

In 2001 I was a student of Veterinary Technology in Kansas City, Missouri. Right before completion of the program, our class took a trip to a local cattle ranch in order to fulfill our yearly veterinary requirements. These included vaccinations, castrations, dehorning, and administering medications.

When we arrived at the farm (feedlot), I was appalled by the brutality with which the duties were performed, particularly the dehorning. Up to this point, I had only been exposed to the procedure performed on calves to stunt the development of the horns. I was unaware of the horrendous practice of taking fully-grown cattle and literally cutting the horns off while the animal is swinging its head and bellowing in agony. No anesthetics were administered. The animal was given nothing but a hot iron where the horn had been, to cauterize the bleeding.

I felt sick to my stomach, and could not help with the duties.

When I got home that evening, I announced to my parents that I was going to become a vegetarian. I did not want to support the practices I had witnessed and the apparent disregard shown for relieving the suffering of the animals. My dad said, "Well, that's too bad.... That means you can't have any of these juicy hamburgers tonight." I succumbed, but my commitment to someday become vegetarian remained.

When I moved to Montana, I began to learn about organic foods. At Harvest Haven, I saw how they raise their animals on pasture, how they do not need to dehorn due to the breed of cattle raised, and that they do not use antibiotics and artificial hormones. A whole new realm opened up to me! I could have my organic beef burger and enjoy it too!

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