Omnivores Dilemma – Position Paper
Pasture Feeding vs. Feedlots
Americans consume about 67 pounds of beef a year for each person- man, woman, and child. In chapter four of Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan talks about the feedlot, where cows are turned into corn eating machines solely for the purpose of gaining weight, which will then be turned into meat. Most of the beef consumed in the United States comes from such feedlots, where cattle arrive after living for six months on pasture and grass to be finished for another six months or so on a diet of corn and other grains. The alternative to this method is natural pasture feeding of these animals. This allows animals freedom and ...view middle of the document...
It was because of these reasons that the practice of using feed lots to raise cattle became a mainstay of cattle raising. Meanwhile, producers at the beginning of the beef cycle were moving away from consolidation. Some of the largest, historic ranches were split up in the 50s. Originally, these huge ranches in the West would breed the cattle, raise the calves and even finish them on vast expanses of grassland. But as the nation's tastes demanded grain fed beef, more and more ranchers were relegated to the breeding alone. Most ranchers ended up selling yearling calves to other feeders. Other ranchers sold out. Of the 70,000 ranches in 1945, about 10,000 went out of business by 1980.
In Chapter 4, Pollan describes the cruel practice of feedlot owners forcing cows to eat food that they were originally not disposed to, corn, which is in turn making them sick and is also creating unhealthy meat. This process seems very cruel because cows were created to feed on grass. But because gaining weight on grass takes nearly four times as long as on the feedlots, these animals are being forced to eat corn, a food that the cows cannot digest on their own, and if it is not monitored, can eventually kill the cow. This is a cruel process for the cows not only because of what they are being fed, but also for the conditions they are living in. These cows are basically living in their own manure, which in turn affects us greatly because this manure that gets caked onto the cows hide contains bacteria such as E-Coli that can enter the meat that we eventually eat, causing harm to us
in the end, or possibly killing us. These feedlots should have higher standards of living and feeding for these cows because if this process continues, Americans are in turn
getting much less healthy meat from the cows, and are also at risk for the diseases that the cattle carry. Even though feed lots are thought of as being completely inhumane, these operators are required to provide medical treatment and supervision of these animals to ensure their well being. Feedlots employ stockmen and women who supervise cattle each day. These key staff members are specifically trained in animal welfare, husbandry and handling along with quickly identifying any animals that may appear sick so that they can be isolated from other animals and treated as soon as possible. Feedlots also employ qualified veterinarians to oversee their animal health programs. As feedlot cattle are also protected from floods, fire, droughts and wild animals, mortality levels are lower than in extensive grazing systems. The cattle feedlot industry considers that effective management of environmental, animal welfare and food safety issues are not only essential for sustainable agricultural production, but protects farmers businesses for future generations. Feedlots are also independently audited each year to ensure compliance with environment, food safety, product integrity and animal welfare legislation. Requirements...