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Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful for a Life Around Cattle

Hey FFT Blog readers!  My name is Lindy Bilberry and I’m a new face on the Food for Thought scene.  I am currently a sophomore studying Agribusiness at Kansas State University and grew up around cattle—both in a beef feedlot and on our family’s cow-calf operation.  Growing up, I lived for the mornings that my dad would let me tag along on Saturday mornings to check cattle at the feedlot with him.  A lot of us are probably unfamiliar with what exactly happens in a feedlot, so I am going to share about my experiences in our operation.  Hopefully it helps us all to understand a little bit about how the cattle in the pens eventually become the hamburgers and steaks that we like to see on our plate!

Growing up, spending time around cattle was my way of life.  That’s me in the leopard print jacket with the calf.
One summer in high school, I had the chance to work as a ‘pen rider’ at Circle Feeders in Garden City, Kansas.  Basically, this meant that my job was to get on my horse every morning at 6:00 and ride through pens of cattle, checking to make sure that none were sick.  If we did find an animal that was sick, we would take it out of the pen and to the hospital (yes, we call the barn where sick cattle are treated hospitals) where the employees who are trained in animal health treat the animals for their ailments.  Circle Feeders had a capacity of holding about 13,000 head of cattle.  At that time, I was riding about one-third of the pens and on an average day I would pull maybe four or five cattle out for treatment.

Last summer my dad and I did some work at a feedyard outside of Garden City, Kansas.  This is a picture of what a large-scale beef feedlot looks like.
There is a lot of talk right now about antibiotic use in livestock and the fear that we are ‘drugging up’ animals in order to make them bigger.  I have had the chance to spend time in a lot of feedlots and around a lot of beef producers in my day, and I have never once found this to be the case.  People who are raising cattle, whether it’s in a feedlot, a cow-calf operation, or whatever, ultimately care about the health of their animals.  When I was working at the feedlot, I would pull animals out to send to the ‘hospital’ because I was worried about their well-being.  They weren’t treated with medicine to bulk up or get muscles, but rather to treat an illness.  They’re going to an animal doctor, just like we go to the doctor to get medicine if we have a sore throat or the flu or a fever.  Cattle are treated so that they can get back to feeling normal so that they can continue to eat and grow!

Questions, thoughts, comments, or concerns?  I would love to hear them!  As we approach Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think about how thankful I am to have grown up around cattle, feedlots, and producers who truly care about the well-being of their animals!
Until next time,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Get Those Hands Dirty! Bruce Vincent to Speak at K-State for Upson Lecture Series

Do you like Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs? Well, get ready because you're going to love the next installment of the Upson Lecture Series!

This coming Monday, November 10 in the K-State Student Union in Forum Hall, Bruce Vincent a third-generation logger from Libby, Montana will be speaking about getting involved in careers that get your hands dirty and the thought process and attitude behind producing goods that stimulate the economy and create a healthy environment.

Think about it, without farmers and the tough, dirty jobs they do we would not eat. Without coal miners or linesman/women we wouldn't have electricity. There is a whole world out there that is driven by hardworking men and women who are committed to using their hands, in addition to their heads, to keep the gears grinding.

Please make plans to join Food For Thought on Monday, November 10 at 7 pm in the K-State Student Union Forum Hall as Bruce Vincent presents "Wish Vision There is Hope -- How NOT to be the Career of Last Choice." It will be an eye-opening lecture and hopefully one that sparks you to institute change.

This installment of the Upson Lecture Series is partially funded with generous support from Frontier Farm Credit and American Ag Credit. Additionally, the Upson Lecture Series has now been fully endowed by the K-State Veterinary Medicine Classes of 1962 and 1966. We are excited about the amazingly generous support of these groups and look forward to bringing many more inspiring and intelligent speakers to KSU for future ULS events!

See you there!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3 Ways Anyone Can Agvocate

Start with keeping up on current issues in agriculture. From GMO labeling to conventionally raised vs. grass-fed beef, you want to be informed about the industry and what it is you’re trying to communicate. You can share as frequently or infrequently  as you’re comfortable with. Try starting with baby steps.

1. Share, like, reblog:

            Perhaps the easiest way to get information out is to pass on what researchers, professionals and agriculturists have published. If you like something you read, feel free to share it with your friends and followers! You can ignite more interest by adding your own opinion or perspective in a few short sentences.

2. Post your favorite recipe or dish

            For me, the main reason I follow Kansas Beef Council or Kansas Pork Association on Facebook and Twitter is the recipes and pictures of yummy food they post daily. It’s a quick, easy way to share fun, new ways to prepare your favorite foods (hello, Maple & Bacon Donut Fries)!

3. Original content

            There are many ways you can share your own agriculture story with others. If you’re willing to take a step outside of your comfort zone, there are opportunities everywhere, from social media to real life conversations (gasp!). Next time you sit next to a stranger on an airplane or bus, strike up a conversation—who knows, maybe you’ll be able to teach them something! However, if you’re not as comfortable with that method, there is always the wild and wonderful worldwide web. Try telling a short story along with posting a picture on Facebook or Instagram. Tweet about a newsworthy event related to agriculture that you’re interested in. Whatever you do, represent the agriculture industry as best you can.

One of my favorite things to do is feed cattle with my grandpa. Rain, sleet, snow or shine, it’s always great to spend the day on the ranch when I go home. These cattle know the sound of the feed truck and wait their turn for lunch while we feed the pen across the road.

If you’re looking for some new reading material or pages to follow, some great examples of agvocating can be found here:

Thanks, y’all!


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