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Monday, September 24, 2012

Agriculturists Police Themselves

The agricultural community is capable of policing themselves and taking care of issues as they arise. My father and brother, Gary and Travis Theurer, have both been involved with a local animal cruelty case close to home. This past year, the Midwest has seen some of the worst drought conditions people have faced since the Great Depression in the 1930’s. This has resulted in drastic management changes by animal caretakers in order to keep the health status high of all the animals. On our farm and ranch, the drought has resulted in selling off some of our cows to have enough grass and forage available to feed all the cows in the summer, extra supplementation in the form of hay bales, lick tanks, and range cubes, and has also resulted in consistent monitoring of water situation to ensure all cattle had access to high quality water. However in this isolated incident, one particular cattle producer did not take the proper steps.
My father was contacted by the local sheriff department to see if he would be willing to help capture the animals and bring them home and care for them. Dad immediately wanted to help because he was informed of the condition of the animals and wanted to do anything he could to nurse them back to health. My dad and brother drove up to this ranchers’ place and gathered all the cattle and hauled them home. Both my dad’s and brother’s responses were, “These are the thinnest cattle I have ever seen. I’m surprised they even have enough energy to walk. These cows need a lot of care to help them along.” At home, the cattle were fed a forage diet. We were initially worried to start the cows on a high quality grain diet because the cows have not seen enough feed and would over-eat any grain product placed in front of them resulting in metabolic acidosis causing more harm to the animal rather than good. We developed a gradual step-up ration diet that would initially meet the minimal cattle nutrition requirements needed and then increased in order to add weight to the cows to get them back towards adequate conditions. We went to gather the cows the first part of July and they have currently added approximately 300 pounds due to the water and nutrition supply my family has been able to provide to these animals. I saw these animals a few weeks after they arrived at home when I was down visiting for the weekend and I saw them again a couple weeks ago. The progress they have made has been remarkable just do to some management practices. Video of the cows and news report of the animal cruelty case can be found here:
The reason why I chose to write this for a Food For Thought blog was just to show the ability of production agriculturists to not only care about their own animals but all of the livestock sector. The drive and passion people can have is outstanding in agriculture sector. While it was a sad and isolated event that animals suffered, people directly involved with production agriculture stepped in and tried to fix the problem the best way they could.

Until next time,

Miles Theurer

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