By: Lauren Lockey
It was almost 1 year ago when I first met steer #152. It was the cool morning of October 2nd, 2015 which also happened to be the day known in the farmed animal rights movement called “Fast Against Slaughter.” It is one day to remember in solidarity the 9+ billion farmed animals slaughtered each year for human consumption. This figure does not include fish and other aquatic animals which is far greater. Meeting “Herman” made this day even more powerful because he is one of the lucky ones. My first time meeting Herman(below)
The US Department of Agriculture projects 90,000+ cattle are killed EACH DAY in the US for human consumption. Most beef cattle spend the first 4-6 months grazing in pastures. At roughly six months of age, calves are sent to livestock auctions where they are purchased and then “finished” for the next 4-6 months at a feedlot. Here they do not have much space to burn calories so the un-natural foods they feed on such as corn and soy enable them to reach the “market weight” of 1,200-1,400 pounds rather quickly. At roughly 12- 14 months of age they are transported without food and water to the packing plant. Quite often these distances are long and weather intense and as you can imagine, the animals are full of fear and exhausted by the time they arrive to slaughter. Yes this is morbid to think about but I urge you to imagine how these babies feel. I say babies because at 12-14 months they are still very young by the time they are “harvested.”
The average lifespan of a cow or steer is 18-22 years in a natural setting. Well two steers named Herman(aka #152) and Harry(aka #16) pulled on one particular rancher’s heart strings and have been given a chance at life. Herman(left) Harry (right)
As explained earlier, most cattle come and go because the cycle of the beef industry. However, Herman sparked my curiosity because he returned year after year. I had to call the owner of the property who we will name “Bill” and ask what the deal was.
“Well, Lauren, I have had him and one other for almost 3 years now.. Those two pulled on my heart strings and I just can’t bring myself to harvest them.”
I could not believe it! We spoke for a while and it wasn’t until December when I spoke to Bill again. I had not met Harry yet but knew Herman spent the winters down in Salt Lake. I called Bill and let him know that #152 is now named Herman and I was curious as to how he was doing. A day later I received a voice mail from Bill speaking as if he was Herman.
“Hi this is Herman. I just heard you called to check in on me and I wanted to let you know I am doing fine. I get lots of pats on my head every day and plenty of food and water. I hope to see you soon. Bye.”
It literally brought tears to my eyes because here is a guy fully involved in the industry but yet he does, underneath all of that, have a soft heart. Those are the attributes we must continue to bet on because you never know what the future brings. Another Rowdy Girl Sanctuary? Another Howard Lyman? With more science supporting the inefficiencies of our current food system and more money backing lab grown meat, I envision a time when all remaining lives will end up at sanctuaries.
Side note: No the planet will not be taken over by cattle because they will no longer be bred into the food industry!
Most cattle in the beef industry never feel kindness from human hands so they are extremely scared when one approaches them understandably. But next time you see cattle grazing notice the bonds they have formed within their groups and families. They build lasting friendships and protect eachother. Unfortunately that is taken away in a very short time. When innocent beings such as Herman and Harry are given a chance to trust and feel love from us they literally become big puppy dogs. Not kidding!
Herman and Harry are not only best buds but when I visit them, depending on their mood for the day, they come right up to me and love being showered with affection. Herman is a little more confident as Harry is shy but both as gentle as can be. They are no less deserving of love and respect than our family pets. When we open our hearts magic can happen.