Farmers need you to have the info! Right here’s what three Ohio beef farm households need you to know.
Thanks to the Ohio Beef Council for sponsoring this submit. I’m partnering with them to convey you this info as a result of I consider it’s vital that we all know the place our meals comes from and depend on reality, not rumor or sensational documentaries.
Whether or not you select to eat beef is your alternative. Whether or not you select to purchase natural or standard is your alternative. And whether or not you want getting beef at your native farmer’s market or the grocery retailer is your alternative too.
What’s vital to me is that you’ve the right info so you may make knowledgeable decisions that really feel proper to you.
You may also like: How to Buy Meat in Bulk
Over time, I’ve had the privilege of visiting many alternative farms (the entire pictures on this submit are ones I’ve taken at Ohio beef farms). I’ve additionally had the privilege of speaking one-on-one with farmers, and I can inform you this:
- They need folks to have the info.
- They need folks to go to their farms and see how they do issues.
- They need to hear your questions and issues.
- They need to right misinformation.
So I made a decision to achieve out to some farm households right here in Ohio, so you may hear from them straight.
What Ohio’s Beef Farm Households Need You To Know
1. We care about our animals. Sure, farmers who increase beef cattle are elevating them for meals. However there’s a false impression amongst some people who farmers don’t care concerning the wellbeing of their animals–when really, the other is true.
“Having a constructive surroundings for the animals is extraordinarily vital,” says Erin Stickel, whose household runs Stickel Farms in Bowling Inexperienced, Ohio. “Animals that aren’t effectively cared for aren’t going to develop and develop into a high-quality product for shoppers. It’s a no brainer for us.”
If a cow is burdened, not solely will it not develop effectively, however it additionally releases hormones that impression the style and high quality of the meat–so it’s in farmers’ monetary curiosity to deal with their animals effectively. “In case you handle animals, they’ll handle you,” says John Grimes, whose household owns Maplecrest Farms in Hillsboro, Ohio.
Meaning issues like managing manure and preserving their residing surroundings dry and comfy. “Cattle don’t thrive in the event that they dwell in moist, soggy barns and pastures,” explains Dee Jepsen, whose household runs Dusty Rose Farms in Amanda, Ohio.
It additionally means realizing your herd effectively and checking on them day by day. “Common contact with our cattle permits us to scout for well being issues, accidents, or different issues that would have an effect on their care like a broken water trough or a coyote sighting,” she says. “Treating cattle effectively is the one approach to preserve a productive farm, in any other case we couldn’t earn a residing to pay for the land, the cattle, and the entire administration methods it takes to boost beef.”
2. The surroundings issues to us. The impression of elevating beef cattle on the surroundings has gotten lots of consideration. And it’s true it does have an effect on the surroundings by greenhouse fuel manufacturing and use of sources (learn extra about this: Your Questions About Beef–Answered).
However being cautious with the land is vital to farmers too. “Caring for the surroundings is considered one of our largest issues,” says Stickel. “As a result of farming shouldn’t be solely our job, however our lifestyle, we should defend the land and water that has been entrusted to us.”
Truth is, lots of cattle within the U.S. are raised on land that’s not appropriate for rising crops, comparable to rocky or hilly areas. Cattle graze on that land and convert it into protein (that’s referred to as “upcycling”). The manure they produce fertilizes row crops on the farm like soy and corn which might be used within the meals provide or fed again to the cattle. “I might problem anybody to say that we’re not utilizing the land effectively,” says Grimes.
Farmers additionally work with native businesses to verify they’re utilizing their land safely–like fencing cattle out of waterways and dealing with manure in a means that doesn’t negatively impression land or water. “Taking good care of the waterways with the usage of cowl crops and accountable manure utility are a couple of methods we work to guard the sources round us,” says Stickel.
Managing the land effectively is within the farmer’s greatest curiosity too. “Taking good care of the land takes environmental administration,” says Jepsen. “If the land is effectively managed, it will probably face up to drought, floods and brush fires, and it may be used to boost livestock efficiently.”
3. All beef cattle eat grass. There’s lots of confusion round grass-fed versus grain-fed beef, and a few folks assume that until the bundle says “grass-fed”, the cattle spent their entire lives in a small pen consuming grain.
However that isn’t true. “Being outdoors grazing is a big a part of the animal’s life,” says Grimes.
All calves graze on grass and drink their mom’s milk for the primary 6-10 months of their lives. Cattle which might be 100% grass fed will proceed to graze whereas different cattle will begin consuming a mix of corn, hay, and gadgets like soybeans and distillers grains for the remaining months of their lives (most beef cattle are slaughtered at 15-24 months of age).
Some cattle spend their lives birthing calves, and these cows spend a few years grazing on pasture.
4. We’re cautious with antibiotics. Typically cattle, like folks, want antibiotics to deal with an sickness. Antibiotics can also be added to feed to deal with a bigger group of cows which were uncovered to sickness, or to assist stop it. All farmers are required by regulation to work with a veterinarian on any medicine use.
“We consider in accountable medication,” says Grimes. “It’s good animal welfare to handle animals after they’re sick.”
The Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) have strict guidelines about how a lot medication the cattle could be given, and the way lengthy the ready interval must be between being handled and coming into the meals provide to verify the antibiotics are cleared from the system.
Carcasses are randomly examined for antibiotic residue at processing services, and ones that take a look at constructive usually are not allowed into the meals provide. Farmers who ship cattle with antibiotic residue can face fines from the USDA, so it’s not of their greatest curiosity to cheat the system. “There’s a false impression that residual antibiotics are within the meat, however that’s simply not true,” says Stickel.
Antibiotics are additionally used rigorously as a result of they’re so costly. One small bottle of antibiotics used to deal with sick cows can value upwards of $1000 (contemplating the revenue on every steer might be simply $100, it doesn’t make monetary sense to make use of extra medicine than wanted).
5. Farming has develop into extra environment friendly. The U.S. leads the world in improvements that make farming beef cattle extra environment friendly, to allow them to produce extra with much less land, water, and power.
As an illustration, with strategies like IVF, DNA testing, and breeding for fascinating traits, farmers can increase cattle that develop effectively and produce better-tasting meat. “It’s a complicated operation,” says Grimes. “We are able to get extra with much less land.”
That’s one cause why Grimes bristles on the time period “manufacturing facility farm”. “It makes the hair on the again of my neck rise up,” he says. “Individuals consider a manufacturing facility farm as some form of sweatshop, however that’s not the best way it’s. We’re environment friendly. So if being environment friendly is being a manufacturing facility, then so be it. Our household’s beef operation makes use of trendy know-how to sustainably handle the pure sources obtainable to us. If we’re going to proceed to feed the ever-growing world inhabitants, we’ve got to supply extra whereas utilizing the identical or much less sources. If we’re profitable on this effort, hopefully the following era of this household can play part of the meat trade sooner or later.”
6. Farming is a labor of affection. What I’ve heard from each farmer, together with these elevating beef cattle, is that farming is all-consuming work. “Farm work requires 24/7 dedication to caring on your livestock and your crops,” says Jepsen.
When animals are relying on you for his or her care, there are not any days off. You’re within the barn on each vacation. And also you’re up at three within the morning within the chilly serving to to beginning a calf. “Farming is an on a regular basis operation. Christmas, New 12 months’s, your birthday, it’s simply a part of the life,” says Stickel.
However it’s additionally work that they’re pleased with. In lots of circumstances, they’re proud to proceed work handed down by generations. They usually’re pleased with the meat they supply to folks on this nation and past. “The U.S. has the most secure meals provide on the planet,” says Jepsen. “And we’re proud to be a part of that system.”