“I Like Cows.”

“Animal science?” they ask. “What can you do with that? What is the point of even going to college if you just want to raise cows?”

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As I finish my first semester of college here in Nebraska, I can say I am more in love than ever. When I first arrived, I really had no idea what to expect. Sure, I had come out and taken a tour in the fall of my senior year. I had fallen in love with campus and the animal science program…but after being here a semester, I can say how truly in love with Nebraska and my major I actually am.

Obviously, I stick out like a sore thumb. As soon as I open my mouth, heads turn in confusion. Everybody wants to know how a southern girl ended up in Nebraska, of all places, and after getting tired of giving a long, drawn out explanation, I finally began telling people, “I like cows,” which inevitably leads to them laughing and me having to give the same long, drawn out answer anyway.

I did, in fact, choose Nebraska because I like cows. Since I was little, I’ve been drawn to them. Each year’s seniors at my high school choose a baby picture to go with their normal yearbook picture. My picture was of me sitting on Knot, my favorite cow, that my parents bottle raised before I was born, with my dad beside me, holding me so I didn’t tumble off of her. I love calving season (there’s a post coming about this soon!). I love to watch those same little calves frolic through a lush pasture, having not a care in the world. I love being able to see a little 75 pound calf grow into a 700 pound cow before being shipped off to a feedlot. When I’m home from school and I roll out of bed in the morning to go feed and see if there are any new babies to tag, it doesn’t feel like a job. It simply feels like spending the day exactly how I prefer to spend it: outdoors, around the animals I plan to shape a lifetime’s work around.

Every single day, I am reminded that I chose the right school. Several times, I’ve been to various presentations about the opportunities that are available for me here at UNL, and realized how blessed I am to go to a school where I can receive a first class education that will lead to me having a great career. I’ve met some amazing people that push me towards my goals and want to see me succeed. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime, and most of all, I’ve determined that I definitely chose the right school, even though lots of people questioned my decision to move 1100 miles away to do it. As my first semester here winds down, I can say that I definitely made the right choice.

Nebraska is everything I hoped it would be and more.

To those who ask why I need a college degree to take care of animals, my answer is this: I want to be the best of the best. I want to be good at what I do. I want to be the face of the industry, not just in Dooly county, Georgia, not just in the state. I want to be the face of the industry across the country, even though I am a female. I want to make a difference in this industry that has helped to shape me into the person I am today and if getting a college education helps me to fulfill those lofty dreams, then so be it.

 

The Antibiotic Argument

It’s not a new thing. People have been arguing over the safety of using antibiotics in meat animals for years. Back in October when Subway announced their plans to go antibiotic free, the uproar began once again. As someone involved in the beef industry, this is obviously a huge deal to me because the decisions these companies make affects the way producers will in turn have to manage herds.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have tried to include the agriculture and the beef industry in every paper I’ve written since starting college. Currently, I am writing a research paper for my English class and creating a research poster for my ag and natural resources issues class on the topic, “Should restaurants be serving meats from animals treated with antibiotics?” Since choosing this topic, I’ve pored over several academic journals, news reports, and even other blog posts from writers on both sides of the fence and what I’ve found is quite interesting: There are MAJOR flaws in two of the biggest arguments presented by those against using treated meats:

1.Critics want to argue that a whopping 80% of antibiotics sold go toward animal use while only a mere 20% go to human use and as a result, many of those critics believe that this “tainted” meat is causing the antibiotic resistance issue that is sweeping across the nation. Out of curiosity, I googled the number of animals sent to slaughter per year as well as the number of people living in the US. The most up to date statistics I found were from 2013 which showed 316.5 million Americans versus 9.1 billion livestock animals going to slaughter.livestock vs. people final

When you convert this to percentages, a flaw in the critics’ argument quickly becomes evident. In percentages, 3.4% of people are receiving 20% of the produced antibiotics, so it seems to me like it might be human overuse of antibiotics more so than overuse of antibiotics in livestock.

I won’t say that antibiotics are not overused in livestock and yes, they could *potentially* lead to a problem but I WILL say that there is a flaw somewhere in the logic that says “more antibiotics are given to livestock so the antibiotic resistance issue must be caused by livestock too.”

2.The second flawed argument the critics are also making is the one that says “more than 23,000 people per year die from antibiotic resistance.” While this is sad and unfortunate, people are quick to pull this fact out of their arsenals when arguing that the use of antibiotics in livestock is killing Americans. When we look at this statistic, I feel it is important to look at some other “1 in X number of people….” statistics as well. Did you know that 1 in every 601 people will die as a pedestrian crossing the street? Every 1 in 500 will be born with extra fingers or toes? The odds of making a hole in one while golfing are every 1 in 5,000? Even the odds of dating a millionaire are 1 in 215, yet, the odds of dying from antibiotic resistance are much smaller: 1 in 13,761. When the odds that you are more likely to die as a pedestrian, hit a hole in one, be born with extra fingers/toes, or date a millionaire are much higher than the odds of dying from antibiotic resistance, I think there might be a big problem in the argument that antibiotic treated meat is slowly killing us.

I will be the first to admit that I am no scientist but as an every day American, these are interesting statistics to take a look at. Food safety is of the utmost importance for both the producer and consumer but before we jump to conclusions, I think it is extremely important to look a little more closely at the argument. I love how Anne Burkeholder (Feedyard Foodie) approached the topic in her title about Subway’s decision to eliminate treated meats in their restaurants.She titled her post, “Subway Announces That a Bullet Is Their Treatment Of Choice For Sick Animals…”(It’s a great read if you haven’t already seen it.) It’s almost as if these restaurants expect us to either care for our animals or make a buck.

Here is my challenge to all of y’all: Always take a closer look. It doesn’t matter what the issue is; whether it’s about cows or anything else. Form your own opinions too. When you dig deeper into an issue, you might sometimes find things are not exactly what they seem to be on the outside.

Until next time!

Thankful…

As each Thanksgiving rolls around, we gather with our families, stuff our faces full of food and gives thanks for the things we are blessed with. Thanksgiving is such a special time of year and it seems in recent years, it’s been more looked over than ever before but this year, I want to savor it and truly remember what this holiday is about.

This year, I am thankful for:

…God sending His son Jesus Christ so that we may all go to Heaven when we die if we believe in Him. (John 3:16)

…living in a country where I am safe when so much of our world currently lives each and every day on edge.

…being able to go to one of the best schools in the country.

…being able to study for a degree in an industry I am so passionate about

…having a family and a boyfriend that supports me in everything.

…and so much more than I could ever name.

I hope everyone has a safe and blessed Thanksgiving! Feel free to share what you are thankful for in the comments below!

Teach them now.

Teach them now.

As I continue to blog about this industry I am so deeply passionate about, it will quickly become obvious that I am a strong proponent of teaching kids about agriculture from the very day they can begin to understand it. I am almost done with my first semester of college here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (GO BIG RED!) and I’ve had several papers to write along the way, all of which I have managed to tie into agriculture or the beef industry.

In my first paper, I made the following statement:

        “In my opinion, educating America’s children about agriculture is of the utmost importance. Today, the average age of the farmer is 57 and ¼ of farmers are 65 or older. As it stands now, we are in for a very rude awakening in the coming years when the older generation is gone and it’s time for a new generation to step up to the plate, but as previously mentioned, we as Americans have not educated our kids in such a way to pick up where we left off.”

Why is it that Americans today think their food comes from a supermarket rather than a lush, green pasture or a cultivated field that was cared for day after day?  Hembree Brandon, editorial director for Delta Farm Press, said, “[Americans] don’t know where their food comes from, and they don’t understand the importance of agriculture and agricultural research, or why money needs to be spent to maintain our agricultural infrastructure.” Brandon also added in this article that most Americans are three generations removed from the farm so how can we truly expect them to understand what it is we do?

People today seem to take agriculture for granted in so many ways. We know there is a huge problem when Yahoo Education is listing agriculture degrees as the most useless college degrees attainable. One of my favorite quotes comes from President Eisenhower who once said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” I can’t even begin to describe how true I think this is. So many Americans today look at the ag industry and have little understanding of it and therefore, seem to be more disinterested than anything and furthermore, seem to believe it’s an industry still trapped somewhere in the dark ages when horses were the preferred method of transportation and plows were pushed by hand or drawn by mules.

I believe now, it more crucial than ever to truly make sure our voices are heard. I will not even begin to claim I have answers on how to do this. My hope, though, is to ignite a fire that makes farmers and ranchers realize the need to advocate not only for the beef industry but for agriculture as a whole lest we see people even further removed from the farm or ranch and possessing less and less knowledge about what it is we do. If we want to protect our livelihoods and passions, and keep them going strong, it is so important that we create a knowledge in other people and form an appreciation in them for our way of life. As it has been said many times before, knowledge is power which leads to more posts in the coming days…

 

Since when is it okay not to explain reality to kids?

Since when is it okay not to explain reality to kids?

In case you haven’t heard, it seems some people are not okay with kids understanding the premise of how food gets from pasture to plate.

https://www.thedodo.com/walmart-pig-truck-1458266888.html

I stumbled across this article recently on Facebook and was dumbfounded. Have we really come to the point in our society where we look at a childrens’ toy, and think to ourselves, “It’s absolutely not okay to be honest with kids about where our food comes from?”

First of all, let me say two things. NEVER have I actually heard it called a “slaughter” truck. Yes, obviously, some of the livestock we see in these haulers are being taken to slaughter but let’s also consider something else: these trailers are used to transport animals. Whether it be to a slaughter house, a rodeo or cutting competition, or even (this is a novel idea:) another ranch, it’s a transport trailer. To quote an anonymous user on another site , “Why don’t you all grow up?…not all cow wagons are slaughter rigs, just like not all trains are slave trains, not all ships are pirate ships….” and so on. Secondly, I believe it’s time that we put on our big boy and big girl panties and get over it. We as a society have become so easily offended over the little things that we seem to forget there are much bigger fish to fry.

It seems to me that Mommy and Daddy are perfectly happy taking junior to McDonald’s  for a happy meal when he sees the golden arches shining like a beacon off in the distance but they are appalled at the idea of him playing with a kids’ toy that’s more a more accurate representation of real life than 99% of the other toys on shelves today.

What it all boils down to is this: If we don’t teach our kids where their food comes from when they are young, when is it ever going to be the right time? Furthermore, why are we hiding an every day reality from kids and shaming it as if it’s something bad? If you have a problem with this “slaughter truck”, I guess it’s about time you become a vegetarian. It might not be glamorous but it’s not supposed to be. I can say at 19 years old that I’m far better off because I grew up understanding reality rather than being “protected” from the real world.

Today, I encourage all of y’all to go out and buy your kids a a piece of American culture for a mere $34.99. Chances are, they will be better for it in the long run.