Monday, September 13, 2010

What is a Feedlot?

What is a "feedlot?" It is pretty much as the word implies. It's a confinement area where cattle are fattened up for market. Those eye-catching red steaks with the white marbled veins of fat, attractive in plastic wrap in the supermarket are from the premium feedlot cattle.

Montana cattle operations are either grazing or feedlot with feedlot production giving the rancher more bang to the buck. Those of you who are drawn to a pastoral setting of greenery with cattle grazing would be sickened by the inhumane crowded dusty dung-filled areas called feedlots.

Packed in such a small area without being able to turn around, you can hear the distress and fear of the cattle by their constant bellowing. As soon as new cattle are bought at auction, they are de-horned, vaccinated, branded, and castrated. Since the rancher can't vaccinate against all diseases, antibiotics are added to all the food. These antibiotics lose their effectiveness with the overcrowding so stronger drugs are added each month, many of which are dangerous to human health.

What do you get in a cattle pen with each animal producing 25 pounds of manure a day? Flies. Lots of flies. Is there a cure for flies? Sure, large clouds of insecticide sprayed over everything, meaning the cattle's feed and water and in turn drifting to the trees and adjoining crops. The deadly chemical lays on the backs of the cattle and passes through the skin into the tissues that eventually land on your dinner plate.

For faster growth, hormones are either injected or added to the feed. One hormone was DES that was eventually banned by the government as being carcinogenic to humans. But, ranchers stockpile their chemicals and drugs so they are using them years after they may be banned.

Are there laws to protect the consumer against the deadly crimes of putting chemically-laced meat on your table. Of course, there are laws but who is to stand over ranchers and enforce them when the dollar-incentive is their guiding light.

Next time you see that red steak in the meat department, think about this. And by the way, steaks are not naturally "that" red either. Just another cheap carny trick.


  1. Thank you for bringing this to light. Even "grass fed beef" rarely is, no pun intended. Usually they are grass fed until just before butchering and then they are corn fed to, shall we say, beef them up. The food industry, especially the meat industry, is rampant with abuse. Thanks for telling it like it is.

  2. This scandal is well-known all over the western world, where we consume more meat year on year. We want meat, cheap meat and don't care how it is produced.

    You don't have to buy it, at least not where I live, I can go to a proper butcher's shop and buy steak from an animal which was allowed out in green pastures and treated with respect. and killed with respect. You forgot to mention the way these beasts are killed.

    The meat I buy is expensive, so I just eat less of it. Which is also good for my health.

    Education is all.

  3. We are lucky to have a local butcher who sources from good farms. I haven't heard of feedlots in the UK but I think this kind of farming (like the battery hen's) has a use-by date. Many consumers are getting wiser to it. Organic, free range, are becoming the norm.

  4. I meant to mention: the Doisneau image is heartbreaking. I am so appreciating the changing images.

  5. ok, I will never look at meat the same way again. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It might have been just the thing that I needed. :0)


  6. I hate it. I hate it that I still eat meat, though I have been trying to purchase more free-range meat. I say this as if I don't have a choice. I know I have a choice, but I am yet to take that big leap. I am okay eating meat when it is done respectfully, gratefully - which I know a feedlot is not at all. I will be careful where I buy from now on and I have been trying to incorporate more veggies and fruits into my diet.

  7. Oh, and coincidentally enough, my MC in my book is buying meat from a natural foods store... it's the only thing he buys there because he doesn't yet buy into "all the other hippie hype." (he's a cop)... ;) Thanks for sharing.

  8. Teresa, Thanks for commenting on my Dear Robert D. I've got a "thing" for him. Ha! As far as meat, I feed my dog better meat than people buy at the supermarket. She gets bison mostly or elk, deer or antelope from the hunters I know. I don't hunt anymore, but I certainly did my share of it. We even close the Flamenco classes because most of the girls hunt.

    You are so right about the butchering. There was/is a movie about an autistic woman whose mother wouldn't accept the fact that she couldn't learn and she did acquire a PhD. She saw movement differently than most people and she watched cattle as they moved in circles in a feedlot. She also sensed their terror as they went to the slaughter house because of their treatment. She devised a circular type building that lead them to slaughter in the way they nornally move. It was totally successful but not used much .... again because of the expense. The woman's name totally escapes me. It was also the name of the movie. I would like to see it again. Have you ever heard of it?

    You are eating the kind of meat we had pre-WWll. Most of the meat raised in Montana leaves the state. People who live here, hunt for their meat. It's just the way of the West. WaHoo Buffalo Bill


  9. Candace,
    You might be getting some of that Montana meat because most of it leaves the state. There are ranchers whose cattle are grass fed but as Teresa said, they too, are often fattened in a feedlot at the end. It's a pity.

    Interesting about your MC. Means you're thinking about it. I haven't eaten meat for 35 years but I used to hunt... shoot deer and pheasants and ducks. I couldn't now because I couldn't kill an animal. I'm really sitting on the fence (getting slivers in the butt, like a true Libra Moon) about hunting. I guess it's fine if you eat what you shoot and if you're a good shot and don't maim any animals. Perhaps it's still survival of the fittest.

    Chickens and the egg-laying hens.... another story here, too. I hope free range becomes the accepted norm of farming with black soil full of earth worms. :) People seem to be leaning toward organic foods more and more. Thanks for the comment.


  10. Manzanita, The movie is "Temple Grandin," her name. It recently won many Emmy awards. Claire Danes was wonderful as Temple.

  11. Great post, Manzanita. I appreciate that there are other ways to get our protein.

  12. Just great, Manzi! We didn't have a vegetarian pasta tonight, which means that in addition to the ground turkey, my pasta was also flavored by pesticides, fly guts, and probably worms to boot.

    We do eat a lot of vegetarian meals, but we could be eating more.

    Note to self!

  13. Meat, yum. Vegetables, yum. Fruits, yum. Fortunately, more ranchers and farmers in my area are into sustainable agriculture. There really is a difference in quality and taste. Maybe with so many fresh food recalls these past few years, more consumers will be willing to say no to corporate farming. I can only hope. Good for you, Manz, for spreading the word about the inhumane feedlots.

  14. Blergh!! Food for thought indeed super lady! Although I am so pathetic, I have never even discharged weapon, let alone plucked a bird. I don't even kill spiders. In the apocalypse i would head to your house so you can teach me how to survive. xx

  15. Modern Military Mother,
    Yes, Wee Gee's great. I like all most of the old b/w photography. Although some of his crime scenes are not what I call "wall hangers." But I revel in the stark inviting simplicity of b/w. Also Dorothea Lange's depression pictures speak out so clearly of the times. Kinda "Grapes of Wrathish" in photos. But, I'm drawn to the whimisical of Doisneau's characters and perhaps it's also the fact that he's so foreign to Americans.
    We always tend to like to look at scenes and people whose culture is a bit different than our own. Do you think so? Because America is so vast, many people never see another country, except in photos and movies. Often I tend to pass by what's good in my own country because I'm trying too hard to reach out to see something different.

  16. Teresa,
    Thank you.... thank you for that name. Temple Grandin. I have to write it on my wrist. I want to see it again.

    Thanks for commenting on the new header. Me too... a romantic that is.

    Nawww. What do I know? A lot of times I just talk. :) You live in a good part of the US where you do get lots of organic food.

    You too. You live where there is a lot of sunshine and people are aware of natural living and organic food. A healthy lifstye and you got Mana's garden too

  17. Oh poor cows, poor poor cows. May the world turn to organic, small scale free range farming methods if not in my lifetime then in the future. I can only hope for this otherwise I'd despair even more. :-(

    Take care
    p.s. I love your new blog heading pic!

  18. I rarely eat meat, and once upon a time that was how it was for most people, it was expensive, and it should still be. It is horrific the way animals are treated, I recently saw abc news and they were describing the mass dairy farms. They actually cut the tails off the young heifers with no anaesthetic purely because the tails get in the way of the automatic milkers, i was nearly sick.

  19. Hi Manzanita, I haven't eaten red meat in the past 2 decades for this very reason! I found you on Follow me on Friday on Never Growing Old and I'm following you now (I hope you'll follow me back!)

  20. Thank you for touching on this subject!

    Have you seen the movie Food Inc.? It's incredibly hard to watch and will send your head spinning. I have made a concerted effort to buy only free range products as well as organic. Not only does the thought of such inhumane cruetly sadden and distress me, it also makes me feel physically ill at the thought of eating such products. Cattle are not meant to eat corn and such. They were meant to graze.

    What saddens me the most however is the lack of compassion in our world towards all living things.

    Again, if you've not seen it you must watch "Food Inc."

  21. Eliza,
    I get sick at heart the way animals are treated. They do respond to human kindness. I've seen it. Thanks for coming by.

    It's so easy not to eat meat, isn't it? I haven't eaten meat for 35 years, too. I am your follower now.

    I did see that movie and it really opened a lot of eyes, including mine, although I had been aware of this going on for some time. It's not that i object to people eating meat but their death should be respected. My family still hunts and they're all good shots so there don't maim the animals.
    You are so right. Even birds and chickens have feelings and compassion to each other and humans. Look at ducks. They mate for like.