Today’s agriculture uses a variety of technologies and products. It can be challenging to understand why or how these various products are used. I have received the most questions on the following topics:
- Electric Fence: Right off the bat, many people might not like the sound of that. Electric fences tend to make images of prisons come to mind. However, they are much milder than you would initially think. Most cattle weigh ten times more than I do, and I can withstand a shock from an electric fence (See below). The primary location we use this is a single wire charged fence when grazing areas that are not permanently grazed (such as corn stalks in the winter). Once the cattle have finished grazing one area, we can simply move the posts and wire to another location.
- Antibiotics: When I get sick, I go to the doctor and receive medication to help me fight the illness. Antibiotics are used in cattle in much the same way. The use of antibiotics varies depending on the situation. Antibiotics may be given to cattle as individual injections or added to feed or water to treat a larger group who has been exposed to the same illness. All antibiotics must go through rigorous government scrutiny before being approved for use in livestock. Cattlemen work closely with veterinarians to develop a comprehensive health program.
- Hormones: to increase the efficiency of feed, in some production systems hormones are used. For those worried about the estrogen impact, one 8-oz serving of cabbage contains 5,411 nanograms of estrogen, over 1,000 times more estrogen than the same serving size of steak from a steer given a hormone implant. Hormone implanted beef has never been linked to adverse health effects in humans.
It is important to know that farmers and ranchers are highly trained to ensure their animals are treated with respect and taken care of. There are programs, such as Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) that help train everyone involved in handling and taking care of cattle on proper procedures and best practices for handling them.
Happy Meaty Monday!