Rancho Cappuccino Case Study: Is It Fair to the Livestock?

| 2/28/2012 3:50:00 PM

After a recent talk I gave in San Francisco, a man raised his hand and asked me how I could distinguish between “human slavery and animal slavery.”

Now there’s a provocative question.

I think we’re as humane as any livestock farmer can be. Our animals live natural lives in a clean place. They are well fed. We handle them as gently as possible, and as seldom as possible. We allow all our calves to stay with their mothers until they wean naturally, rather than separating them young so the cows will breed again sooner. We keep a bull so our animals don’t need to be trucked around or confined in a squeeze chute to be artificially inseminated. In fact, our cattle go their whole lives without being roped, run through a squeeze chute or hauled, at least until they are sold or slaughtered. We choose our slaughterhouses in part based on their humane treatment of the animals they kill. We look for facilities that handle the animals gently and take care not to traumatize them unnecessarily. There’s a surprisingly wide variety in the habits of people who handle livestock in close quarters all day. Some people are rough with them. Others take a lot of care with the animal’s feelings.

We don’t brand our animals or tag their ears. Because they have ample room, clean water and because we don’t haul in replacement stock very often, we virtually never require a veterinarian, so the animals don’t have to go through the disturbing experience of being confined and handled. Most livestock hates to be confined in small spaces or handled by human beings. I believe a lot of farmers cause problems during their birthing seasons by watching their animals too closely and upsetting the mothers’ sense of security. Imagine a human mother trying to give birth while being monitored, much less handled, by a predatory species.

Most importantly, our animals are never alone. Cattle, sheep, goats, mules, donkeys, chickens, turkeys and dogs are all social creatures that crave, most of all, the companionship of their own kind. In particular, they are happiest in the herd, flock or pack where they live in a stable social order. So we do our best never to keep any of these animals alone.

The cat’s another story, of course. He seems to like his luxurious solitude.

8/5/2013 2:35:16 AM

This article was so riddled with strawman arguments, it is difficult to engage in a true debate. Regardless, it is nice that the author actually gives these issues thought (and feelings).

Spencer Lo
10/3/2012 8:21:01 PM

Hi Bryan, you are clearly a thoughtful and reflective farmer. I encourage you to read the following which attempts to address your central ethical questions head on: http://animalblawg.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/whats-wrong-with-happy-meat/

Bryan Welch
3/6/2012 11:37:12 PM

Yes, one of the things that we find most enriching about the experience is the profound sadness we feel at the deaths of the animals. Although the Vegan doesn't usually feel that, their consumption displaces and kills animals, too. I think that sense of awareness is valuable, how ever you sustain yourself.

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