By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau
cover photo – Ro Irving
Farmers and ranchers have always adhered to sound principles of animal husbandry while providing the best care for their livestock. Society’s views on animal welfare, on the other hand, continue to evolve.
Today, people are becoming more concerned for the animal’s quality of life.
While there are extreme fringe groups, “activists” if you will, many people today have honest questions and concerns about the quality of life for animals while they are in the production environment.
Who are these people?
These people are average individuals. Some are like you. Others may be like me. Many are one, two, three or more generations removed from the farm and no longer understand what goes into the care and feeding of farm animals.
Most of these people are not opposed to eating meat. They believe it is OK for people to eat animals for food. They just want to know while that sow is going through the production cycle she has a reasonable quality of life.
Raising livestock on the farm or ranch is a dynamic, specialized profession that has proven one of the most successful in the world. Only in the United States can less than 2 percent of the population feed 100 percent of our population – and other people around the world – as efficiently as we do.
Today’s animal husbandry is no accident. Because our livestock are the best cared for, we can provide such efficiency.
Farmers and ranchers work hard, long hours to care for and nurture their livestock. Farmers and ranchers are neither cruel nor naive. A farmer would compromise his or her own welfare if animals were mistreated.
“We love our animals,” says Dana Pieper. “We want to produce healthy animals that will one day feed others. We produce beef animals that are destined to be food for all of us.”
Dana and David Pieper operate Pieper Land & Cattle Co. near Palco in northwestern Kansas. The land where they run cattle and farm has been in Dana’s family for more than 130 years. Her grandpa’s great-uncles settled this land on a timber claim from the Union Pacific Railroad.
Pieper is the 5th generation to farm and ranch in Rooks County. More than anything, she wants to carry on her family livestock operation and provide an opportunity for her children to continue this legacy.
“I’ve always known this is where I would one day end up,” Dana says. “I hope one day our children, Cody and Cady, will raise and care for cattle here.”
Dana is a hands-on producer and their family herd consists of approximately 40 fall calving cows, 150 registered Hereford spring calving cows and 150 commercial black and black baldie spring calving cows.
“Our cattle eat, sleep, drink, walk and reproduce,” Pieper says. “They’re living creatures. Caring for them gives us a chance to be in charge of each and every animal’s welfare.”
Many consumers are unaware of a farmer’s relationship with their animals. They don’t know how meat, milk, eggs and other food products wind up on their dinner table. Few know all that goes into caring, feeding and nurturing of livestock on farms and ranches across Kansas.
Kansas farmers and ranchers are committed to continuing the enhancement of animal well-being throughout the life cycle of their food-producing animals. Today’s producers remain dedicated to using all the scientific measures available to develop long-term management options and short-term production practices based on scientific research findings about animal well-being.
That said, today’s consumers will continue to regard the profession of farming and ranching highly, and embrace a quality, abundant food source they value second to none.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.
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