Nothing humane about animal agriculture

As a 6th generation United States farmer, I have had my fill of people talking about “humanely raised meat” when they don’t have a clue.

As a person who, in my 48 years on this earth, has provided daily care for more than 1 million animals, I think I am qualified to address the topic. The real experts in animal welfare are the farmers and ranchers who actually brave the elements of Mother Nature and get the job done.

Today is a great day to talk about how misguided the concept of “humanely raised meat” that folks like Chipotle are presenting to the public.


The only thing that is “humane” about rearing livestock for human consumption is the farmers and ranchers themselves. There is NOTHING else humane about it. Look the word up in the dictionary if you don't follow my drift.

At midnight last night I was still assisting a sow in the farrowing house by helping a couple of smaller, weak pigs get a good start.

By 5:30 am I was back in the farrowing building but the walk to get there was tough. It was 17 degrees with a 30 mph North wind and 8-10 inches of fresh snow.

Inside the farrowing barn, the sows and pigs were content in the farrowing crates and the temperature was a comfortable 74 degrees. They have no idea what it is like outside.

After completing the inside chores, I started the tough job of providing the feed and water needs to the outside hogs that have access to a bedded shed and the out doors.

Here you can see the sows that live in the environment that some think is ideal. On the other hand, if I were a sow I would choose to live inside where I did not need to pile on top of another pig to protect myself from the howling wind.

Pigs can be managed by good herdsmen to thrive in any type of environment. The farmer, not some pencil pusher in his/her comfortable cubical, should make that decision.

For the non-farm folks today, their romantic notion of pig rearing with access to outdoors and bedding is exactly the way my grandfather raised pigs in 1950.

What other single thing in life do you do like anybody did in 1950? From banking to communicating to driving to acquiring information. Not one single thing today is really like it was in 1950 yet we are told that farming and livestock production should be and we are also expected to feed a population that was unheard of in that era.

Why should we raise animals in “retro-style”?  Certainly not because the animals demand it. Give the sow the choice and she will choose a crate inside a building 100 times out of 100.

So after a couple hours of plowing snow, feeding and watering I make my way back into the temperature controlled farrowing building where another sow has 11 wonderfully active warm pigs that required ZERO assistance.

If that sow was in a pen with bedding and access to outside as demanded for “humane care”, there would be nothing there but a pile of dead pigs. Thanks to the advancements in modern pig rearing, I have a healthy litter of bacon makers on the way.

In closing I am asking that people stop referring to “humanely raised” milk, meat or eggs unless they are talking about the very animal husbandry that the farmer knows best how to provide.

The Chipotles of the world can sell their pig in a blanket, but let the farmer worry about keeping the live pigs warm.

Contact me at TrentLoos@gmail.com or www.LoosTales.com or better yet just call my cell 515 418-8185

Comments

Unknown said…
So very true Trent!
M-K said…
Thank for writing this article! I write a blog called the "art of agriculture" and just wrote a post on why I'm an anti-PETA activist. It is so frustrating to listen to people who have never even visited a farm criticize and lecture those who study, live in, and work in the industry. Great article. Sharing!

Unknown said…
Excellent post! Thank you for telling it like it really is and thanks for taking such good care of your pigs!

Julie V.
Anonymous said…
Thank you!!! I could not like this post more! (As I'm attempting to regain feeling in my frozen feet from doing chores tonight.)
Unknown said…
I agree completely (while doing chores at 6 degrees) and hope that others will also! It is always sad when those that have so little to do with an industry and a way of life can have such an impact. Keep spreading the truth!
Unknown said…
Love it Trent, heard you speak down at the U.S. Custom Harvesters convention last year in Wichita. Did a great job there and did a great job on this topic. Thanks for the post. Stay warm down there its cold here in Hay Springs too.
Jim C said…
Thank you Trent for telling the real story of why we have modern pork production and the reason why we will be able to feed the people in this world in the future! Just as no one wants to saddle up their horse to go to work, modern pork production has tripled the amount of pigs we raise because they are more comfortable and provide the consumer a safer product. Just as every father wants to know where their 16 year old daughter is a night, so do we want to know what our pigs are exposed to at night when we are not around them. Think of that next time you select for free range products when you dine at Chipotle!
Unknown said…
Thank you. The sour taste I've experienced has been the use of the same and similar as selling points to people looking toward becoming involved in raising their own animals. It makes my skin crawl. It sows disappointment like a seed that sprouts and grows, when things don't go as 'pretty' as they were told. And animals get caught in the shuffle, because they don't have enough freezers. People want instant, anymore. Raising livestock is so far from instant satisfaction when you jump in with a willingness to bring them home to ignorance.
farmer Tom said…
It was warm at your place.

I came out of the finisher unit the other morning, the temp was -5. Inside it was a nice warm 67 degrees.

Thanks for writing this. You are spot on.
Warren Thomas said…
Very well stated. I just returned from the barn, assisting new ewes with 1st time lambs. Cold and snow and I have been at it since 7 AM, it is now 11PM. Will begin tomorrow all over again.
The righteous said…
This article is awful. How about I stick you inside a crate for your entire life and see how you like it ? That little time outside is the only time the sow gets to enjoy life before it is slaughtered... So let's say the same for you. You are born, raised for a few years in a small crate and then slaughtered. Some life huh? These are real sentient animals.... Think about that.
Crystal Perry said…
Trent, I really enjoyed reading this blog. My Dad liked to tell me a story about spending a very cold night in the farrowing shed on his family's farm helping with the birth of pigs. He went back to his house where my Grandma had made some breakfast for him, then went back to the barn where he'd found that the sow had rolled over and smothered all of the pigs. Needless to say, he wasn't happy about spending that cold night for nothing.
robert groom said…
The pig isn't inside a crate it's entire life, it is housed to give birth and rear that litter. Animals are not sentient, they are instinctual "self-righteous" and are bred for a purpose, which farmers and ranchers understand means that a well fed, content animal results in more profit and a better eating experience for the consumer, insuring they remain consumers. But ignorance is bliss isn't it?
D Fitswell said…
You need to do some research on how pigs are raised. Knowledge is power.
Erin said…
Thankfully the truth is finally being brought to light. The farming industry, as so well put by this blogger, is only interested in "bacon makers", not the comfort and welfare of a thinking feeling being. It's all about profit and people are now demanding better for food animals. The people involved in this industry have to try to justify their cruel practices in order to be able to sleep at night. End of story.
Unknown said…
i think the push for pasture raised meat has more to do with the nutrition of that meat once it reaches the plate as than the humane treatment of the creatures. The good stuff they get from consuming grasses and seeing sunshine (vitamin D please!) instead of corn or processed feed transfers into thier meat, mmmm bacon! Not to mention decreased needs for drugs when they aren't packed in a building. That said, snow covers the ground/ food source this time of year and it is cold! I sure am glad to be inside today - and if I were a pig I would surely feel the same
Todd in KS said…
Excellent. People that think otherwise need to spend a couple of weeks tagging along with you to find out what it is really like.
Unknown said…
The righteous, farmers like myself bust our asses so people like you have food in front of you. We put in more hours in a day than you ever will. We care for our livestock, food animals, in the best way possible so you can eat, and in an affordable way. You have no clue. ..don't tall with your mouth full. ..
Livestock Farmer said…
So you consider yourself 'The Righteous'. I consider you to be 'The Ignorant with a Keyboard'. It is evident you nothing of livestock farming. Sows are in a farrowing crate for maybe 3 or 4 weeks at a time. That's all. Easy to tell that you're an uninformed city slicker.
Unknown said…
I raise cattle.
Nothing humane? They are grazers. I plant grasses, legumes, clovers, provide the best water and natural water. Maintain natural shelters, ponds, streams. Feed them all they can eat in the winter along w/grain.

I guess I should be more like you once were if you think this is in-humane (?)

Your blog is troubling and one sided.
Ted nelson said…
Who has lost their rights? The sow to live in a crate for a couple months while the piglets are nursing or the piglets the right to live by not having the mother kill them by laying on them.
Ted
Mylesofsmyles said…
well I find this story intriguing. I am not sure what the take away is. Should we not strive to treat animals with some basic level of comfort. Most sows in the U.S. spend their reproductive lives confined to a gestation crate. These crates are barely bigger than the sow’s body and prohibit her from turning around. I am not okay with that. Are you Trent?
cindy menning said…
Yeah, very well said. I was raised on the farm. Loved that life. loved the animals. Yes there were times when temps were so cold, blizzard going on, school was called off. You still had to go outside to care for the animals. We learned so much as kids growing up. Sitting under a heat lamp helping a sow deliver. Making sure everything would be OK. Keep up the great work.
The real righteous said…
I am surprised you only have one comment so far from a Vegan......Their minds will never be changed, so no need to waste time and energy trying to do so.
Farmer Brad said…
Cows are much more tolerant of the cold. Have you seen a pig? They don't have a thick coat of hair to insulate them like cattle. So not really one sided because these are two different animals. I have both pigs and cattle and our cattle are outside because they can actual tolerate it.
TamikaMaria said…
As a rancher that frequents health and nutrition websites and boards, I'm pretty sure neither side understands the other. For instance, I find the way some chickens are raised repugnant (in crates stacked one on the other with so little room they can't stand up), but on the other hand I know that it's not possible for them to be frolicking out in green pastures with rainbows and butterflies above them 365 days a year. A pastured chicken/egg is healthier and is going to taste better, but the health nuts freak out if the chicks get a commercial feed supplement. Hello! They can't live on bugs and grass alone, especially in the winter.

I think more people need to start ranching (and trying to make a living on it) so they can understand it better. As a rancher, my goal is to raise the healthiest, happiest animal I can. I'm never going to raise the green pasture rainbow butterfly chicken or cow because it's not possible, but I'm going to raise the best one I can. And it will be delicious.

Farmgirl said…
Great article! Unless you have lived on a farm and cared for animals throughout all sorts of weather, birth, illness, and death then you really have no idea what it is like. I guess that is what frustrates me the most, the masses of people being influenced by a news story here and there and then become experts on how animals are raised.
Ted Ladner said…
I think you have missed the point completely David. Look up the word Humane and see what the definition says.....
Kim said…
Have you ever seen sows housed together? It's like the world we live in. The bigger and stronger pick on the smaller and weak. If given an option sows choose the confinement over the open. There's a YouTube video on it. I worked as a farrowing manager for 4 years on multiple farms. All are given the best possible care and have better living arrangements and medical care than people.
Unknown said…
You bleeding heart righteous...get a life! You act as if pigs/cow/sheep have souls...they are dumb animals that were created for 1 purpose-feeding those of us who have souls, appetites, and sometimes...clearly thinking brains which we use most of!
Nate Brown said…
I raise pigs as well and couldn't imagine putting a sow in the farrowing crate. What are your feeling Trent about gestation crates? I just couldn't imagine looking a sow in the eyes while they are in a farrowing crate and thinking that was the life the sow would choose. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghq_LCIgduk
Anita Loos (no relaton to author) said…
Awesome article, I am the wife of a farmer that goes out in the below zero weather at ANY time of the day or night to make sure our animals are safe. those who think that pigs are in those crates all of their lives are apparently living in a box themselves! I think those who think that should spend a few months(or years) working on a farm following in the steps of our farmers and LEARN something before opening their pie holes as to what is humane and what's not.