City people and cattle liners, why?

It’s articles like this that I read tonight in the Western Producer that just make me shake my head and wonder why,

Producers must provide answers

Accountability paramount | Experts call on industry to lead charge for animal welfare research

Posted Feb. 23rd, 2012by Robert Arnason

PIPESTONE, Manitoba — Canadian cattle producers are urged to pay more attention to the issue of livestock transport because consumers are certainly doing so.

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association vice-president Martin Unrau recently said at a town hall meeting in Pipestone that federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz’s office receives more letters on livestock transport than any other issue.

“This is where the consumer sees the animals,” Unrau said at the meeting, which is part of a new communication effort to help the CCA connect with cattle producers.

“We have to be accountable to the public…. The perception has to be that we look after our cattle very well in transport.”

A Ritz spokesperson confirmed that the minister’s office received more than 200 letters on the topic last year.

Unrau’s comments were made weeks after dozens of animals died when a commercial cattle truck collided with a train north of Carberry, Man. That type of incident may be a random occurrence, but the related headlines and television news stories can potentially alter the public’s perception of livestock production and transport.

Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, who studies the transport stress of farm animals for Agriculture Canada in Lethbridge, said it’s hard to control the emotional reactions of Canadian motorists when they drive by a trailer filled with cattle, pigs or chickens.

Nevertheless, Canada’s cattle industry must be prepared to deal with the related questions and concerns, she added.

“If a customer has a question, they have a right to ask it. It’s going to look far better for the industry … if (it) can answer some of those questions honestly with some knowledge and science behind it,” she said.

One concern is the length of time that cattle are kept inside trailers.

Canadian regulations allow cattle to be transported for 52 hours without stopping for food or water, but animal welfare organizations such as the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have argued that’s much too long and too stressful on the animals.

In its 2010 report on Canada’s farm animal transport system, WSPA referred to a Harris/Decima poll that said the public feels the same way.

The poll found that 96 percent of Canadians felt it is at least somewhat important to limit transport times to reduce animal suffering.

Unrau said reducing the maximum time inside a trailer would severely affect Manitoba cattle producers because the province is many hours from slaughter plants and major feedlot operations.

While he conceded that reducing the maximum time makes sense for animal welfare, he also said no one really knows the appropriate length of trip for a cold and vast country like Canada.

Animal welfare experts in Canada such as Schwartzkopf-Genswein are studying the issue, but there are many unanswered questions:
■ is it better to unload animals during a trip to provide food and water?
■ should food and water be provided on the trailer?

Schwartzkopf-Genswein said it may seem obvious that stopping for food and water or providing food and water onboard makes sense for animal welfare, but those questions lead to other questions.

“We’re not even sure if off loading for feed and water even helps the animals…. (Would) they even drink the water because it’s different to them?” she said.

“Is welfare better if they are provided with feed and water? Probably. But what do we do when it’s – 30 C and the water freezes?”

The livestock industry needs to find the answers or someone outside the industry may impose a set of regulations for livestock transport in Canada, Schwartzkopf-Genswein said.

200 letters? Seriously?  What is this world coming to?  Should food and water be provided on the trailer?  Honestly?  We’re taking this seriously?  Yes, I understand having a cap on the number of hours in a trailer.  Obviously you keep them in there long enough with nothing, they’ll die, so obviously.  But seriously.  It’s all a case of humanizing livestock.  These people driving in the city see a large livestock trailer packed with cattle and think that must be horrible because they imagine themselves in that situation.  Then ironically most of them pile onto a city bus or train at probably a higher density rate then the cattle liner.  Give me a break.  Why can’t people just look at it and go, you know what I don’t understand why they do that, I’m going to ask someone that’s involved in it to find out the reasons they do it that way.  Then I can make a reasonable and knowledgable decision on it.  NO!  They look at the trailer and go, That’s horrible, I’m going to write a letter to the Agriculture minister about how horrible and disturbing this is to me in my daily commute to witness this.  Maybe we should go back to cattle drives and get them writing letters that we’re tying up traffic.

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The beginner farmer and rancher

It’s so hard to start farming today. Land costs, machinery costs, just costs. I’m so grateful for where I am but I can’t help but worry about the future. How is the next generation going to get into this? How can they? And when I see the so called programs put out to help them, it just makes me shake my head. AFSC has what they call their Beginner farmer loan. I’ve seen this at tradeshows I’ve gone to when I visit their booth. I’m not going to go completely into it but it basically gives a reduced interest rate for the first 5 years of the loan. Great. But let’s think what that really does. After those first years are over, the program’s done. So what does that encourage you to do? Start big and grow fast to make the most of the program. I started my ranch small and built it up over time. And by time I don’t mean 5 years. Hell, in the first 5 years I mostly just learned what not to do. But maybe that doesn’t work anymore. But I can’t understand putting a timeline like that and selling it to people starting out. It’s just things like that get to me. They promote it as helping young farmers. That’s not helping them. Why doesn’t the government come out with something useful. Something simple that really supports people that want to get into farming. They have these Growing Forward programs for various approved projects. You can get part of the cost covered if you qualify. Why not do that for those wanting to get into farming in the first place? For those that are qualified, cover part of the cost of starting out. Some of the max amounts for projects are up to $30,000. That could go a long way for someone starting out. I look at some of the kids that I hire on occasion to help me out. They’re so good with cattle and so energetic. But when I ask them about their future, it’s always the same, there’s no way they can financially start out on their own with the cost of everything. So they get their full time job in the oilfield and just get their ranching fill on their days off helping me. They say the average age of the Canadian farmer is 52 and rising. Guess I’m still bringing the average down for now. But with no one able to get in, what’s going to happen? I hate seeing all these well qualified potential ranchers having to go work in the oilfield because there’s no support for them to do what they’d be best at.

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Ranch land developement

Sing it Corb! We’re all seeing this more and more. That large new manufactured house built out on what was once pasture land.

The large compressor station put on what was once a grazing flat. The multitude of roads criss crossing pastures to all the well heads.

And then there’s “Fracking”. But I’ll let you learn about that, since it scares me too much to explain it. I’m glad in my own little corner of the world, I don’t have to deal with any of this all that much. Oil and gas is everywhere but at least I’m a little more left alone then others. What exists around here, I can live with. I don’t like it, but I can live with it. I could see it getting to the point Corb sings about though and that worries me. Not only for my generation but mainly for the next. It’s closer to Calgary that the acreages and big homes are a problem. It’s sad though to go for a drive out in these areas and see those big manufactured homes out where they don’t belong. And this streches all along the rockies from Alberta down to New Mexico. We’re all in the same battle. Ranching is viewed as an iconic part of North America but many who admire it, don’t respect it. As Ian Tyson puts it in this article I found,

“The current policy of liquidating oil and gas resources as quickly as possible is not in Alberta’s best interests,” Canadian country legend Ian Tyson tells reporters. “It is destroying agricultural communities, wildlife diversity, recreational tourism, and the signature landscapes all along the Cowboy Trail.”

It’s a very good article. Written a few years ago but still relevent,

Eastern Slopes battle looms.

“There’s no landscape like this left. You can’t just keep chopping it off into pieces.”

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Horse People and Cattle People

“Horse People”, why does that need to be a term?  Those of us in the general livestock world understand, there’s just plain “Horse People”.  Those that just have horses and think they’re somehow special for that reason.  I belong to and follow some forums, some based on cattle and some on horses.  I read and post occasionally.  But its observing and comparing the two that’s so interesting.  The cattle people are for the most part all so friendly.  Sharing and discussing cattle.  Talking prices and weather.  Then there’s the horse forums.  To quote Austin Powers “Spectacles, Testicals, Wallet and Watch”.  Where do I even start.  The conformation nazies that pick apart everyone elses horses.  The anti-slaughter wingbats cursing out anyone that believes different and telling the breeders they’re the most evil beings on earth for over-populating the horse world.  The ones that keep their horses blanketed and stalled thinking everyone else is abusing their horses.  The people obsessed with papers and lines.  And of course the know it alls.  Can’t forget the know it alls.  “Horse People”.  Why?  Then there’s real world.  I attend cattle sales fairly regularly for feeders in the fall and the occasional horse sale to look at some potential new saddle horses.  Cattle sale, we all visit, joke with each other, discuss prices and such.  Horse sales, whole other ball of wax.  Rudeness seems to run abound.  Last sale I went to I witnessed a horse owner yelling at one of the auction employees because their horse was put within sight of a stud.  Wasn’t even beside it’s pen, just within sight to make them act up.  It’s a horse auction, that’s what happens.  It’s not a horse auction just special for your damn horse.  But no, demanded their horse be moved to a special pen far away from any studs.  I made a mental note of the horse’s number and watched it later be sold to the meat buyer for the going rate.  Would it had been any different if it hadn’t been moved, NO.  “Horse People”.  And that’s just one experience I’ve had at horse sales.  Makes me not really want to go to horse sales anymore, just so I don’t have to be around these “Horse People”.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting older and less tolerant of this new society.  I’ve often said I can’t wait to be the old guy in the rocking chair on my deck, complaining about the world.  But I think I’ll find my saddle horses online from now on but they’ll have to have one requirement.  They must also own cattle or some other kind of livestock so I’m not dealing with “Horse People”.

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Bill C-322 to Ban Horse Slaughter in Canada introduced to legislature Oct 5, 2011

Oh where do I start with this.  Let me first say, I love horses.  Horse slaughter is terrible, but it’s necessary.  The fate of thousands of horses without it is just plain unimaginable.  My views on horse slaughter is to end it, we must eliminate the need.  If the need isn’t there, it will ban itself.  Now let me explain this ridiculousness nonsense.

On Oct 5, 2011 a private members bill was introduced by the NDP agriculture critic, Alex Atamanenko.  It’s summary reads,

This enactment amends the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act to prohibit the importation or exportation
(a) of horses for slaughter for human consumption; and
(b) of horse meat products for human consumption.
Now this bill was introduced like I said by Alex Atamanenko who won the riding of British Columbia Southern Interior for the NDP.  Alex is a retired teacher.  He has his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, a teaching diploma, and a Master of Arts degree in Russian.  I won’t list all his highlights but let’s just say absolutely none of them have anything to do with agriculture or horses.  He lives with his wife in the town of Castlegar, BC.  The closest thing he has to livestock is his dog, Cyrus.  Yet this is the NDP’s agriculture critic responsible for this bill?

Let’s be honest, he’s just a patsy.  We know who’s behind this, the groups hell-bent on getting rid of horse slaughter in the U.S.  They’ve realized they need to extend beyond their borders to get this done.  How to do that, fund a group in Canada that can influence naive Canadian politicians like Mr. Atamanenko into coming up with bills like this.  Think about this quote from the explanation of a private member’s bill from Wikipedia,

A member of parliament’s legislative motion, called a private member’s bill or a member’s bill in some parliaments, is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature. In most countries with a parliamentary system, most bills are proposed by the government, not by individual members of the legislature. In the United States and other countries in which the executive is formally separated from the legislature, all bills must originate from the legislature and are therefore all proposed by members of the legislature.

They’re even using the American style of introducing the bill.  This is purely Americans attempting to get their way by changing our laws.  It’s wrong.  Even read their first amendment they want to make to the health of animals act,

14.1 No person shall import horses for slaughter for human consumption.
Import?  Why are we concerned about imports?  Wasn’t this about all the horses?  Oh that’s right, it’s American’s, so all they’re concerned about is the imports from their own country.  Stop this attack on our laws.  Isn’t this our country?  This bill, even though it will highly likely be defeated, should have never even come this far.  Contact Alex Atamanenko and tell him it’s wrong to pander to American influence.  Shouldn’t Canadian agriculture policy be up to Canadian farmers.  Not retired teachers with no agricultural background playing agriculture critic coming up with proposed bills of American influence.  Just plain wrong.
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The Backyard Horse Rescue

It should be a new term.  The “I want to rescue horses from slaughter” people who visit a horse auction once and think they can save them all.  We’ve all seen them.  What’s wrong with these people?  Do they not realize the resources it takes to do something like this?  That they’re not going to turn over every horse to a wonder home in a matter of days.  Not every horse is rescue-able, some really do need to meet their ultimate fate a little sooner then others.  But getting back to rescue.  Sure all rescues start small and buy from auctions.  But most have good backing to them, hay production, donars, grants, charity status, etc.  They’re not just someone with a trailer and $400 lying around.  Or that minus the trailer and a nice neighbour.  Hey, let’s start a rescue.  Hay, pens, shelter, water, we’ll worry about all that later after all someone will agree with the rescue cause and donate money for that.  We better get cracking and get 10 to 20 rescues to eat up all that hay.  Seriously, we need people around at auctions to pick these people out and escort them out before they end up causing more trouble then they’re trying to solve.

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Equine massage

Another equine massage ad?  Is everyone doing this now?  And they seem to be getting more and more desperate.  “Your local friendly equine massage therapist”  Go to their page and they’re 500km away.  How is that my “local” therapist?  Come on people.  I even came across a website offering to “certify” people online after taking a course online.  Unbelievable.  I’m sure there’s a place for it and I’m sure in some cases it’s quite beneficial to the horse but seriously, do we need hundreds of these people offering it?  How about doing something useful and taking a farrier course and doing some trimming.  Now there’s something in demand.  But no, that would require work and effort.  Something lacking in the new generation of horse people.  We’ll just come to your place and pet your horse for you.

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