Last week, July 10 to 16, like many of you, I watched sports, the stampede, and the news. After someone complained about the abuse of animals when one of the animals competing in the stampede was injured and had to be put down, I began to think about who was the best looked after in this old world, the people or the animals? Then the evening news came on T.V. and we noticed how many people were reported injured or killed at work, at war, or enjoying themselves.
Farmers who make their living with farm animals have been taught that to bring the very best milk production, growth rate in hogs or beef, egg production or any other interaction with animals means: eliminating all stress in the animals life.
Most farm animals fed rations are much better balanced today than a person. Indoor environments are regulated for heat, humidity, hours of light, softness of the bed that they rest on, comfort of their footing, noise like people shouting or a barking dog - even very loud music is a no no. The air that breath, even the hours that spend resting, eating, exercising, being milked, socializing, drinking water, the mineral content of the water controls what extra minerals must be added to the feed.
The stage of gestation, lactation, temperature, and how far they have to walk all go into the calculation of the energy required in their rations. Floors that are too hard, like cement or too slippery are not allowed. Dirty floors and muddy pathways are frowned upon for peak production. Animals are like athletes, they must receive the best care for their health.
Yes, there are animals that get sick just like we do. Yes, farmers use doctors (veterinarians) to advise the best treatment for the animal too. Sometimes the animal does not recover, just like people. Sometimes an injury can end their life, just like people. Sometimes an animal is euthanized to end the suffering and pain if recovery is impossible. People are still struggling with that one. Some animals love to race, just like people do. Sometimes there is a “crash.”
As I watched the chuck wagon races, the barrel races, the bronc riding and the bull riding, I thought that the health of the bull riders was in much more danger than the horses in the chuck wagon races. I also enjoyed watching it on T.V. from the comfort and safety of my chair in the living room.
Although the average life of an athlete is less than a person with a much less active life-style, both people and animals still like competition. Although I don’t like or attend cock fights, dog fights, or bull fighting, there are a few rules in competitive sports that I would also change.
After watching the winners of the competitions at the stampede, (many of them have trained for years and come from families of rodeo competitors) being awarded their fifty-thousand dollar cheque, I turned on the evening news. You too have probably noticed that a lot more people are severely injured or killed while driving or vacationing than while at work.
Although, I have been warning farmers that they are in the most dangerous profession in the world, I am now wondering if driving on the road is more dangerous.
As a community, we must also congratulate our 4-H club which sent 20 of its members, plus animals, leaders and many parents to the provincial club rally in the Eastern Township area of Quebec. These young people competed with 4-H members from other clubs in showing, judging, public speaking, homemaker events, “fitting” animals for show, with everything from rabbits to sheep to calves. Our young 4-H members not only won many divisions, but also the highest score of any club in Quebec.
Probably the most important gain for all was how to help each other, meet new friends from other areas and do it all without politics and parents telling them what to do.
Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.
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