A few years ago during spring calving season, I had decided to ride to the farm with my dad to check on all the new babies. Most of our trips in the past had been short and simple. That morning, I was in charge of counting the calves as we rode through the frost-covered pasture. Twelve was the magic number that day, but each and every time I counted, I kept coming up with 11 calves, each lying with its momma cow in beds of hay. My dad decided he would count as well, but, still only 11. We bounced around in the old farm truck until we got down to the creek bed and discovered the missing calf with its mother nowhere in sight. My dad hopped out of the truck into the sleet that was beginning to fall to check on the calf, and before I knew it, there was a new passenger in the seat I had just been in.
We made our way back toward the front of the property with many of the cattle following us up to the barn. My dad subjected himself to the harsh winter conditions to ensure each of the cattle were taken care of properly. We left the farm and headed straight to town with our new shotgun rider in tow. My dad soon had the calf in his arms carrying it down to our finished basement. I couldn’t even make it down the stairs before my dad was feeding the calf, which was now wrapped in towels in our warm basement.
“The real experts in animal welfare are the farmers and ranchers who actually brave the elements of Mother Nature and get the job done,” according to Trent Loos, a Nebraska rancher and well-known agriculture advocate.
As the daughter of a fourth-generation cattle farmer, I have witnessed firsthand everything that goes into raising healthy livestock. The hours upon hours of tough and dangerous work in extreme weather conditions that farmers around the world have to endure, creates the question, how can people believe that farmers do not care about their animals?
Of the 570 billion farms on the globe, 72 percent are run by a single individual or rely primarily on family labor, according to globalagriculture.org. This means that on farms that produce livestock, the farmers must come into direct contact with their animals and tend to their needs.
Farmers expose themselves to many dangers while working in agriculture. Every day 167 agricultural workers suffer an injury resulting in losing time they could be working. In 2012, 374 farmers lost their lives due to a farm-related accident according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While not all of these injuries and deaths resulted from animal related experiences, the danger that is lurking on livestock farms is widespread.
Today’s agriculturists sacrifice their comfort, health and safety for their animals, and for you.