Do the Cattle Have Room to MOO-ve in a Feedyard?

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I think there is a common misconception that feedyards are like over crowded classrooms.  That the cattle are tripping over each other and that they have no room to (dare I be punny?…) moo-ve.

I’m here to tell you that is simply nonsense.  I’ve seen it; the cattle have PLENTY of room to move around in their pens.  They don’t lack for space.  I’m posting the same picture at the top from yesterday’s post that shows the big space the cattle has to move within the pen.  And if you are concerned about the cattle all together in the back.  Don’t be.  Cattle are a herd.  They like to stick together, for example when it’s hot and there are flies, they like to group up together so that they can help keep the flies off each other.

Yes they are segmented up in pens, but they are spacious enough for the number of cattle that are in that pen, and for a cowboy to ride through on his horse.

Speaking of the cowboys and their horses…that my readers is how potentially ill cattle is found.

Twice a day the cowboys ride through EVERY pen in the feedyard checking out the cattle.  They are trained to look for certain signs that may indicated illness in the cattle.  They look at the cattle’s eyes (are they runny? red? things like that), their ears (droopy?), are they keeping themselves distant from the herd in general (sick cattle will remove themselves from the collective, or the other cattle might push a sick head out), are there any cattle limping within the pen?  It’s quite amazing to see the cowboys move about the cattle and their genuine care while they work with them.

I even got to ride on Chip and took a ‘stroll’ through a pen with Reagen one of Greg Baxter’s (T&E. Cattle Co.) cowboys to see how he checks the cattle every day.  Of course that only lasted until the cowboys were scheduled to herd the cattle over to have their growth hormones replaced (which I’ll discuss in another post), and then my leisurely horseback ride started to become a little rough! 

(My camera crew may not have realized the camera was still on at the end, but I hope you enjoyed the dirt road!!)

Reagen being the smart cowboy that he is, decided that this city girl was not quite up for the herding task, and led me out of the pen.

Much like those on the feed crew, the cowboys are on duty no matter what the weather, no matter the day.  Not only are they trained to recognize the symptoms of cattle that may be sick or injured, when needed to they can do most anything a vet would.  While a vet comes by on regularly scheduled visits, there isn’t one on site all the time so the cowboys have to know what to do, and they do it well.  They are even trained to do an autopsy if one of the herd is found dead.

To further drive home the point that feedyards are not filthy, over crowded places where your potential beef sits mired in mud and dung – the seven people that were invited on this tour were split up to see three different feedyards in the area.  We all agreed, we saw the same care, compassion and clean living conditions at each of them.

To sum it up one of the participants stated about the feedyard he had visited (which was even larger than T&E Cattle Co.) “I saw 48,999 happy cows today, and one sick cow.  And once that sick cow was treated and taken care of…I saw 49,000 happy cows.”  The cattle at T&E Cattle Co. looked pretty happy to me too

What ‘happy’ cows mean is less stress.  To you as a consumer that is important because the less stress the cattle are under, the healthier the cow is, and thus the quality of your beef product is reflected.

I was taken on a tour sponsored by the Beef Checkoff with a group of influencers and experts to get a first hand look at where consumer’s beef comes from. All expenses were paid, however all opinions in the posts are my own and were not swayed by that.

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