When Tragedy Strikes - One Person's Response to the Kansas Feedlot Deaths
In light of the recent event that took place in a Kansas feedlot, where thousands of cattle died, as a rancher, I have had numerous people reach out to me to ask about my thoughts on the situation.
First off, THANK YOU! Seeing consumers take an interest in genuinely wanting to understand the beef industry is awesome! You care. You want to get informed. You are trying to understand.
Here is my response.
I’ve stewed over this a lot the last few days. I’ve reached out to fellow ranchers and done my own digging to better understand the situation and to find some clarity on what really happened.
First off, I will NOT bash the beef industry. I am PRO BEEF. It’s the whole reason I left my comfortable, secure life in the city to follow my dreams to become a rancher. Beef is good. Cattle are good. There are many ranchers that do really great work. Beef, cattle, and ranchers are not the problem.
What I WILL do is shed light on some of the flaws of our mass food industry as that is where I believe the real problems lie.
What happened in Kansas is awful and devastating. And I can assure you, everyone involved, from the ranchers to the feedlot employees, are taking it really hard. No matter how we run our operations, one thing I can tell you is, most ranchers care deeply about the well being of their livestock.
Raising livestock is hard. There is no “one size fits all” way of going about doing things. How each ranch operates will be determined by the climate, the breed of cattle, the end goal, etc. And even if you are running a “well oiled machine” of an operation, there are many elements that are simply out of your control. Mother Nature is one of those elements. We can reflect on the catastrophic storm that took place in the Dakotas a few years ago, that took out entire multi-generational ranches in ONE NIGHT! No one saw it coming. And even if they did, there would have been only so much the ranchers could do. Or the mass flooding in Australia that wiped out huge operations, killing thousands of cattle.
From what I have learned, the deaths that occurred in the Kansas feedlot were due to excessive heat. The cattle in the videos seen are fed cattle, which means they are at full weight, ready for harvest. The layers of fat that they have makes it hard for them to regulate body temperatures and makes it hard to cool down. Additionally, temps did not go down at night, which means the cattle never had an opportunity to cool off before fighting the heat stress the next day.
One of the biggest influences of us starting our beef business was a result of the flaws we were seeing in the main stream mass food industry. It had a big impact as to how we wanted to run our ranch and beef business, in a way that kept us true to our convictions….providing families with nutritious & delicious beef while raising cattle in a responsible manner and caring for the land. We do not send our cattle to feedlots. From the little we did know about them, it was an obvious choice for us to build a direct to consumer, more customized beef business. Having a more streamlined beef business gives us more control over how our cattle are handled and what condition they are in at time of harvest. Have we lost cattle due to environmental impact? Absolutely. That’s going to happen regardless. It’s nature.
WITH ALL THIS SAID, HERE’S A REALITY CHECK FOR ALL OF US…
Here is where I am going to get real straight forward about things. While I do not believe in a lot of the mass food industry practices, it is not my job to tell you what to do or tell you what choices to make. And it definitely isn’t my job to tell any rancher how to run their operation. Regardless of what you believe happened, or how things happened in Kansas, here’s the question you SHOULD be asking yourself….
AM I GOING TO SIT BACK AND POINT FINGERS OR AM I GOING TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION?
Replace the time you are taking making assumptions, analyzing, and gossiping, and use it to find a resource that YOU believe in. Instead of spending time deliberating about conspiracy theories, use that energy to create a more sustainable lifestyle for you and your family. You can not play victim or complain about the current circumstances if you are leaving it up to the world to decide how to feed and provide for you.
As a consumer, if I have a problem with how things are being handled, its up to me to make changes on my end. PERIOD! The only finger pointing we should be doing is at ourselves. If you are comfortable in your choices, great. If not, make the necessary changes. But don’t put the blame on others. There are always options…ALWAYS! It may take time and some adjustment in your life to implement those changes, but they are available.
I understand that may sound harsh, but its TRUTH. And truth is what sets us free.
In the end…fed is best. If you are able to have some flexibility in your choices, even better. Choose according to your convictions.
If you are looking for more farm/ranch direct sources, please feel free to reach out and I will do my best to connect you with resources in your area.