I, personally, do not have a problem with the core of your organization. I actually admire your commitment to standing up for what you believe in: the ethical treatment of animals. However, to be frank, your personal opinions make no difference to me. If you want to protest animal testing — go ahead. If you want to rescue dogs from an underground dog fighting ring — go ahead. Heck, if you want to be vegan and not support the agricultural industry — go ahead, be my guest, it is no skin off my back. None of those actions affect me personally, therefore I do not care what you do or what you think, so long as you do it with an informed mind.
What I do have a problem with is your blatant lack of agricultural intelligence and your need to spread this ignorance to society in an attempt to sway the public’s views of agriculture — THAT is when your organization affects me, my livelihood and my family.
My great-grandfather Stricker came into this country just as World War I started. When he and his wife arrived at the port of Baltimore, Maryland, he was asked his occupation and Grandpa Stricker boldly wrote one word: FARMER.
My family has been farming and ranching in this country for decades. We’ve used various agricultural techniques and practices over the years, just as our ancestors used for 2,000+ years before us. To call this piece of equipment a “cow rape rack,” and these practices “sexual violations,” is incredibly disturbing and, quite frankly, couldn’t be further from the truth.
I assumed an internationally recognized organization focused on the ethical treatment of animals would have done their research on exactly how and what this piece of equipment and this glove is used for — clearly, I assumed wrong.
A photo of my younger cousin manning the chute while my grandpa prepares vaccines.
The Squeeze Chute
The piece of machinery in this photo is called a “squeeze chute.” The purpose of a squeeze chute is to hold an animal still while conducting medical techniques and practices on said animal. This could mean giving cattle vaccines to fight off terminal illnesses or conducting various medical procedures such as palpating or possibly delivering a newborn calf. I’m sure squeeze chutes are used for unethical practices every now and then, but speaking from experience, they are mostly used to do GOOD for the cattle being handled.
Some people do not use a squeeze chute and risk working with cattle out in the open, this is a perfectly fine technique as well. But when you’ve got hundreds of cows, heifers, steers and bulls (see my previous column if you need clarification on those terms) who need to be doctored, a squeeze chute is the way to go. Without the usage of squeeze chutes, ranchers and farmers would be unable to doctor mass quantities of cattle at once, leaving room for illness to spread amongst a cow herd. One could say that the usage of a squeeze chute is beneficial to the cow, heifer, steer or bull because of its efficiency. It makes the medical process run far smoother for all parties involved and creates a shorter time frame for cattle to spread/contract illness.
Any breed of cattle can be put in a squeeze chute, not just dairy cattle. Dairy cattle may be put in a squeeze chute for medical purposes but typically are not milked in a said chute. When a dairy cow is milked, she is placed in a stall with a gentle vacuum attached to her teats. This process is no different than when humans use a breast pump to extract breast milk.
I mentioned palpation earlier. Palpating a cow or heifer is checking to see if she is pregnant (Sorry for the gender specific pronoun. In my 22 years of being around cattle, I’ve never heard a cow/heifer object when referred to as a “her” or “she” and I would be willing to bet the oldest rancher on the planet would say the same). Palpation, or “preg-checking,” is a simple procedure which I will now explain. An accurate, detailed step-by-step how-to article can also be found on wikihow.
Corral the cow/heifer in question in a squeeze chute;
A veterinarian puts on a long, latex glove (like the one in the photo) and puts some sort of lubrication on said glove;
The veterinarian then lifts the tail of the cow/heifer with their un-gloved hand and inserts their gloved hand into the rectum of the cow/heifer;
After voiding the cow/heifer’s rectum of manure, the veterinarian locates the cervix of the cow/heifer;
Once the cervix is located, the veterinarian feels through the uterine wall in hopes to feel a fetus;
The veterinarian slides their gloved hand out of the cow/heifer’s uterus and cervix and, most of the time, yells “BRED!” or “OPEN!”
*“Bred,” means the cow/heifer is pregnant, “open,” means she is not.
Your Sexual Misconduct Comments
The “cow rape rack,” is actually used for the wellness of animals and could be compared to the stirrups women are put in when visiting an OB-GYN.
The forceable impregnation you’re speaking of is called “Artificial Insemination,” or “A.I.” and is no different than artificially inseminating a human. Cattlemen can also use embryo transfers in their breeding programs, just as humans would.
Merriam-Webster defines “rape,” as: “Unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.”
To refer to this act as “rape,” is absurd. Watch animal planet, take your dog for a walk in the park, even drive by an “animal sanctuary,” and you will see animals mating with one another all over. It’s what happens, it’s nature and it’s done without the female animal’s *technical consent. Cows, heifers and bulls don’t know what rape is because rape does not exist in the cattle world. They cannot comprehend rape because, if we’re being honest, breeding is just about all cattle know how to do – they don’t see it as taboo or uncouth, it is simply nature’s way of repopulating a species.
“This is what we do.”
Just like cattle doing what they’re put on this planet to do, farming and ranching is just what we do; It’s our way of life. Regardless of your opinions or beliefs, you cannot live without agriculture. Farmers and ranchers are feeding the world, even the small percentage of the population who are vegetarian or vegan — the “plants” in “plant-based protein” has to come from somewhere!
Before you ridicule us or our way of life, make sure you’ve got your facts straight and your belly isn’t full because we are the sole reason you’re not naked or hungry. We are the ones who wake up every morning and feed horses, till soil, doctor pigs, harvest crops and assist cows in giving birth. We keep you clothed; we keep you fed… WE are the backbone of this country because it’s just what we do.
Mayzie Purviance, Agvocate
*Reposted with permission.